Lord Deben: “Covid Has Been Useful”

Exploring the origins of the bronze [“Couler un bronze” in French, besides its normal meaning of casting a bronze statue, also refers to a common excretory function] statue of Greta, I came across a video celebrating the organisation of which the statue’s Maecenas is a co-chair, namely the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education.

At 14 minutes and 50 seconds into the video, we have an interview from November 2020 with Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, and the man who is charged with the greatest fiscal responsibility in the history of the planet, since the UK is the only country in the world which has given the decision of how many trillions of pounds to spend on saving the planet to an unaccountable committee presided by a gaga religious maniac who was last seen in public feeding a hamburger to his daughter in order to demonstrate that novel viruses prions aren’t dangerous at all.

In the following talk, seen by 92 people on Youtube (not including me) Lord Deben states that Covid “has been very useful.” I have so much to say about the opinions of the most powerful man in the UK, but my transcription of the interview is long enough already. Read it, or better, watch it, to appreciate the depths to which the country has sunk, when a senile lunatic giving an impression of Chairman Mao reciting Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day” can get away with reciting this batshit threnody. And note how his ramblings confirm many of Cliscep’s intuitions: It’s not about the climate. There’s not a word of science in the whole discourse. It’s all about Brexit, Trump, religious mania, and Orwellian Groupthink.

***

It’s now my great pleasure to introduce the right Honourable the Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, I’m sure well known to all of those attending this morning’s event. Now Lord Deben spoke at our launch event this time last year, and one of the many comments he made really resonated with me. He said: “Reaching net zero emissions is essential, it is feasible, and as a sector dedicated knowledge and thought leadership it is rightfully expected.” [???] There was the challenge thrown down to this combined sector, and I’m delighted that Lord Deben is able to join us today and to comment on the work thus far of the Commission and also the enormity of the challenge that we face even though it is essential and feasible. Lord Deben, thank you very much. Over to you.

Lord Deben:

I’m very pleased to be here and thank you very much for inviting me, and I liked the opportunity to hear what some of your students reflected on in their year of work.

I suppose the first thing one really wants to say is that there is a huge challenge for the centres of education and enlightenment. We’re seeing the American election play itself out, and what we’re seeing there is the clash between science and knowledge, intellectual understanding and respect, and those who just don’t want to know. And it’s a very serious worry that here in the 21st century we should be fighting the sort of battle which we might have thought had been left behind in history, certainly since the Enlightenment or indeed since the 12th century Renaissance. It’s a very tough thing for those of us who’ve been brought up to respect the rationality that comes from research and understanding, to be faced with those who find that of no importance. For what matters is what they feel, and what they would like to be true.

So we have I think an even more acute sense of the role of students at universities and colleges all round the country, and their future role because of the training that has taken place. And it has been a very difficult year for them. Lockdown has worked perhaps even less well for them than for many other people. And now we come into another lockdown. The concentration of people upon Covid and upon its reactions and results can lead them away from the other great challenge. But interestingly, what Covid has done much more widely – and I can say that from the work that I do on sustainability – is to make more and more people recognise that these big systemic risks, of which climate change is the greatest, do have to be faced. I mean, we’ve always known that there could be a pandemic. It’s been on anybody’s risk register. But people have not really taking it seriously. It’s one of those things that you have to account for, you have to think for, but actually it isn’t the thing that you’re thinking about as you work towards your first quarter’s results. Well now it is. And with it has come an understanding of environment, social governance issues, which people have forgotten, or pushed to the back.

Investors are asking questions about the companies in which they invest much more than they were before, and demanding those companies have sustainability progress. So for students, and you working in this battle, you’ve come in at a time in which there is a readier, a readier audience than perhaps you’ve had before. And when the Climate Change Committee produces its 6th carbon budget which will be very tough, will need a great deal to achieve it, but is feasible, and is financiable, and is absolutely necessary if we are to ward off the worst of climate change –

[this is not an ellipsis. Deben had a Biden moment and forgot to finish his sentence]

And so I hope that if I am setting the big role for students it’s to help us make the 6th carbon budget the guiding light of every activity in the country. And of course the first of those activities is the way in which universities operate, in which student bodies operate, and in which students themselves operate. And I do want to have a go at you on that because it really is a question of starting with yourselves. I don’t believe that you can help others to walk the walk unless you’re walking the walk yourself, and therefore there are all sorts of questions that we have to ask about students, and which they’ll want to ask, answer. Nearly 90% of students have a deal with Amazon. I wonder how many of them actually say to themselves: “Is it environmentally sensible to insist that a product that I don’t need tomorrow comes tomorrow?” “What am I doing about ensuring that my purchasing activities are as carbon neutral as they can be?” That’s another thing to add to the not letting the water run when you’re cleaning your teeth, or not boiling too much water when you want a cup of coffee. They’re tiny things. Each one in its own right does very little. But if the whole student body did it, and convinced others to do it, then those mundane unimportant things could mean that we could make a huge difference to the emissions that we have without in any way interfering with the sort of life that we want to lead. 

And that’s the second thing really. We need as young people – I say “we,” I’m not young, but you need as young people – to ensure that this whole campaign is serious, but it is not miserable. One thing that will not convince the world is a whole lot of Misery Martins claiming doom and gloom. What we have to do is point to people that it’ll be hard, but it can be done. It can be done within 2% of the Gross National Product. Now I don’t much like the GNP as a measurement of the wealth of the nation, but it’s a useful one here. So we know we can do it, and we can do it, and we can do it and still have the sort of life which it is reasonably, reasonably grown up to expect. We don’t need to be cold in the winter. We don’t need not to have hot water. We don’t need to find ourselves living on lentils. What we have to do is to live more reasonably in relationship to the planet which we’ve been given. 

There’s a very important insight in the Pope’s encyclical on Laudato Si – it’s called “Laudato Si.” And in it he says you must look at climate change as the – [phone rings] that’s the thing that always happens when you do this, that’s the telephone which shouldn’t be on – it is, you have to look at climate change as a, em, symptom of what we’ve done to the world. It’s the way we’ve used our resources. It’s the way that we have reduced the fertility of our soil. It’s the way that we have put people into poverty whom we could have brought out of poverty. It’s the way that the rich have been greedy and caused the pollution which itself has become climate change. We must look at the disease and not at the symptoms, and that means very very considerable change, because it’s not just a transition to the new world, it’s actually a transition to a world which is very different. Covid has been useful for that. More and more people realise that you’re not going to go back to where you were, and that’s very exciting for students, because you’re going to build a nation and a world which will be, right from the beginning, clearly, very, very different. And most generations don’t have that chance. It is a very unusual thing for a revolutionary change to take place without the bloodshed or the war which normally precedes it. Or succeeds it. [sic. Sic Sic Sic] We have a real chance to change the world. And it is your generation that is going to make my generation and younger people recognise just how much has to be done.

Now I want really to say just two more things. I am very impressed with what students are doing. Some of the most important moves in the country are happening in universities, not just the students but with people who are teaching and who are administering universities. What Leeds is doing and Cambridge, what Bristol and the West of England and a whole host of others, is really exciting, and will make a huge difference. But it needs to be done together with the rest of the community. Students need to be the harbingers of all this for the whole of their generation, because being included is absolutely necessary if we are to win the battle. Inclusiveness is part of the whole question of justice. And justice too is the second point. Most students, like most English people actually, have a natural sense of fairness, and the present situation is not fair. Climate change is affecting the poorest most. It’s affecting the oldest, the least able to defend themselves. It’s affecting the countries which have least, and now they have less. We rich countries that have made our wealth out of pollution, have got to pay that cost. And I’m afraid it’s your generation that’s going to have to pay a very large amount of that cost. 

But when we hear people suggesting that it’s necessary to pay recompense for slavery and for all sorts of other things, I think the recompense which we have to pay, because it’s one that will actually change the world, is we’re paying the recompense for the wealth which we have created through polluting the world and for bringing our planet close to extinction. That’s why the radical view of fighting climate is so important. This is not just a rearrangement of the chairs on the deck. This is actually realising that we’ve got to live differently, individually, as student communities, as university communities, and as the community as a whole both nationally and internationally. We’ve recently made that more difficult, by leaving the European Union. We’ve lost one of the very best ways which we had of influencing the world and taking leadership, but we’re going to have to find ways of making up for that really ridiculous mistake. 

One of those will be to show that in COP26, which begins as you know in Glasgow at the end of next year, that in COP26 Britain is going to be a leader, and to do that, we have very soon, to offer an even bigger, er, change than we’ve offered so far. We must lead the world in how much we are prepared to do. ‘Cos after all we invented the industrial revolution and so bear a bigger responsibility perhaps than any other nation, and it’s a good thing that we’re having this crucial COP in our country, in Scotland, when we can make amends. And so far the government has shown itself willing to do those things. I’m known not to be the biggest fan of the particular nature and policies of this government, but that makes it easier for me to be able to say that on climate change there is a real consensus, and the government has committed itself to do the right things. The problem now is it’s got to do ’em, and keep on doing them, and the public has got to support it, and that’s where once again you come in. You can make all the difference. A student body committed to achieving these ends, to supporting even people they disagree with if what they are doing is what needs to be done to fight climate change. Determination to make this revolutionary but just, radical but understanding, and above all, intellectually sensible, showing that we’re doing it because it’s true, because the threat is real, because we know.

And that’s the final thing we as educated people have got to say. Graduates and undergraduate students of all kinds. Knowledge implies responsibility. When you read the first chapter of Genesis and there was the myth of Eve eating the apple, the key story is that once she knew, she was responsible. When she knew, she had to take measures,and react, and do the right thing. Knowledge is the creator of responsibility. We didn’t know why the Black Death was spreading and we couldn’t fight it or take responsibility for it. We do know about climate change, we do know how it’s caused, and because we know, we have to fight it. And because you are professionally in the know as students, you should be at the forefront, and I thank you for all that you are doing to take on your responsibility. 





27 Comments

  1. Point of order, Geoff – I think he fed the burger to his daughter, not to his granddaughter.

    There are some great quotes in there:

    “I don’t believe that you can help others to walk the walk unless you’re walking the walk yourself”. Presumably that’s why he lives in a massive, old house.

    And this is a good ‘un:

    “…you have to look at climate change as a, em, symptom of what we’ve done to the world. It’s the way we’ve used our resources. It’s the way that we have reduced the fertility of our soil. It’s the way that we have put people into poverty whom we could have brought out of poverty. It’s the way that the rich have been greedy and caused the pollution which itself has become climate change. We must look at the disease and not at the symptoms, and that means very very considerable change, because it’s not just a transition to the new world, it’s actually a transition to a world which is very different. Covid has been useful for that.”

    Drill down on that – ” It’s the way that we have put people into poverty whom we could have brought out of poverty.” I think that’s a perfect description of the climate-concerned and the policies they’re imposing on the poorest in the world, as is exemplified by the fact that the poorest countries in the world aren’t much interested in reducing their emissions.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks Mark. Corrected.

    Remember Lewandowsky’s Alice in Wonderland paper, in which it was demonstrated that sceptics are loonies because Ian Plimer once said something that contradicted something that Anthony Watts said at a different time in a different context on a different continent?

    There are two threads running through Deben’s argument, but warp and weft never meet, leaving his argument threadbare as his mind unravels before your eyes. On the one hand:

    …not letting the water run when you’re cleaning your teeth, or not boiling too much water when you want a cup of coffee. They’re tiny things. Each one in its own right does very little … we can do it and still have the sort of life which it is reasonably, reasonably grown up to expect … we could make a huge difference to the emissions that we have without in any way interfering with the sort of life that we want to lead.

    But on the other hand:

    [the Climate Change Committee’s] 6th carbon budget which will be very tough, will need a great deal to achieve it … What we have to do is point to people that it’ll be hard … that means very very considerable change, because it’s not just a transition to the new world, it’s actually a transition to a world which is very different … I’m afraid it’s your generation that’s going to have to pay a very large amount of that cost.

    So which is it? A tough transition to a different world, or cleaning your teeth with a dry toothbrush? The 92 people who watched the video have yet to make up their minds.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Seldom Glummer, Pope Francis, Boris Corbyn and Joe O’Bama. Please God give me strength.

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  4. May I be a pedant also? Thanks. The infectious agent in question was a prion, which to my mind is rather more terrifying than a virus. That clip of Gummy Bear feeding his daughter drew a line under my carnivory and I have been a vegetarian ever since (a slight exaggeration: beef went instantly, the rest followed, the final thing to die, or no longer die for my pleasure being invertebrates).

    In 2015, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that plants can be a vector for prions. When researchers fed hamsters grass that grew on ground where a deer that died with chronic wasting disease (CWD) was buried, the hamsters became ill with CWD, suggesting that prions can bind to plants, which then take them up into the leaf and stem structure, where they can be eaten by herbivores, thus completing the cycle. It is thus possible that there is a progressively accumulating number of prions in the environment.

    If that ain’t scary, what is? (Oh yeh: cooking a BSE burger would not “kill” the prion.) Thanks Gummy Bear for showing me the one true path.

    I get the feeling that our friends across the aisle would delight in making great alarums if we used such a statement as “Covid has been useful” in furthering our agenda.

    Interesting that now more sceptics will have read Gummy’s words than students will have heard them. Sorry for the mangled sentence. I will have to read the speech again, because it too consisted of mangled sentences and diversions.

    I would also like to write a rather more concise version of the speech that I might have given had I warged into Gummy Bear at just the right moment. However, that will have to be attempted on the morrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thanks Geoff – ties in nicely with “Making Kids Shrill, Scared and Stupid” by Tony.

    you have to wonder that this guy (adored by “Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education”)
    can get away with statements like –
    “We’re seeing the American election play itself out, and what we’re seeing there is the clash between science and knowledge, intellectual understanding and respect, and those who just don’t want to know” – what???

    Brexit – “We’ve lost one of the very best ways which we had of influencing the world and taking leadership, but we’re going to have to find ways of making up for that really ridiculous mistake.”
    – but I thought we were leading the world you nob.

    He seems to think (and may be right) that his little quango over rides any votes by the vast majority of the people as long as he gets the yufff to sign up

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oddly enough on Triggernometry, an interview show on You Tube, Prof. Starkey points out how useless the modern young are, and how so-called intellectual leaders are enabling something akin to the French revolution in its ignorance and destruction.

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  7. Sorry, here is the link.
    If you’re not familiar with Triggernometry, I commend the show as an interesting source of the rarest form of journalism today:
    Honest Interviews.

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  8. What Deben might have said if I warged into him at just the right moment. For some reason this has become almost as long as the real version. I’m sorry!

    GUMMY BEAR:

    Thank you so much for inviting me to speak to you today.

    We’re seeing the American election play out at the moment, and it has been a little embarrassing for the world’s greatest democracy for it to drag on so long. Of course it has been close, and you might be wondering how it could possibly be so close, and what does that say about the American public? Well, whether we like it or not, a large proportion of our fellow citizens are what we politely like to call “low-information.” They vote with their gut, not their brain. In fact some of them do not have an identifiable thought of their own. But do not get carried away and think this comes from one side only. There are sheep on both sides, and that’s why we need young people like you, the new elite, who are going to tell people what they should think and ultimately make decisions for them.

    Of course, only a tiny proportion of you will make the grade for the new elite we need – that’s why we call it the elite, we only need a few of you. The rest will have to make do learning how to use those marvellous coffee machines they have these days, while paying down your student loan over the next thirty years. But we need the new generation of baristas too. I love coffee.

    Something that you might be aware of is that the concentration of a trace gas called carbon dioxide is slowly increasing in the atmosphere. We are certain beyond any doubt that this is going to cause a catastrophe of earth-shattering proportions if we don’t have this revolution in our civilisation that we’ve been hearing about. Basically what it means is that, as a country, we have to be generally poorer and less free than we were before, but it’s ok, because of course that won’t apply to the elite, and the rest of us – you – the baristas, if you like, will have Netflix. So keep paying your bills like good little, I mean, like upstanding citizens, and never wonder who told you to take on fifty grand of debt to get a piece of paper that enabled you to take a course in coffee making that you could have taken three years earlier for nothing. Well, we all have dreams, and if you don’t have a dream, you won’t get into a pile of debt. But don’t worry, because if you’re still poor in 2050, the debt will be wiped.

    I should say something about the pandemic. Locking people down has been an immense social experiment. That so few have objected to lockdown seems to me very good evidence that we can take people’s cars away, their gas boilers etc, and they won’t raise a murmur. Because we’ll tell them how dangerous carbon dioxide is. As to the pandemic itself, I have the inside track on that: it escaped from a lab in Wuhan, where the scientists were undertaking gain-of-function research on a bat coronavirus. The idea was to see just how infectious they could make the virus. Well, they did a pretty good job, I hope you’ll agree. Obviously some fish are a little slippery and this one got away. The Chinese refute that suggestion, but there is no world where they would admit to it, is there?

    Speaking of the next superpower: they really did play us for fools when we let them into the World Trade Organisation, didn’t they! We thought they were going to become more like the West as they got richer, but instead they got more like communists, but rich communists. Still, you get the government you deserve, as the saying goes. By which I mean when China rules the world, we only have ourselves to blame. But because they won’t cut their carbon dioxide emissions – don’t believe that rubbish about them reaching Net Zero by 2060 by the way – we in the west have to cut ours. Think of it like a cake. That’s our ration, the world’s. One cake. And if China and a few other countries eat it all between them, we can’t eat anything. It’s obvious.

    To be honest, we can’t afford to go to Net Zero without a wholesale decrease – I mean off a cliff – of our living standards, freedoms, etc. But there will still be an elite, so work hard – by which I mean make sure you know the right people, to hell with your academic work. As I say, the conformism we have seen with lockdown gives us good reason to believe that the rest of us – the baristas, let’s say – will put up with it, so long as they have TV, and if we keep feeding them a diet of terrifying headlines that will pop up daily on their phones – you know, like “Grass to die by 2030,” stuff like that. The masses like grass because they play football on it. Or I mean they used to play football on it, now they just watch others play football on it, because it’s easier.

    We are bringing the private sector with us on this. Big oil companies like BP and Shell are leading the way. They saw what happened with Orsted racing up and overtaking them just by building windmills, and they saw which way the wind was blowing. Ha. So they are soon not going to be oil companies at all. Some of the shareholders of these types of companies are too woke to realise that this is a terrible idea. They really believe that BP etc can make a go of becoming a wind company. Some shareholders are upset, but they can just sell their shares if they don’t like it. We like to pretend that shareholders were demanding these companies mend their ways, but really it was all done by activists sending a tweet here or there in between episodes of whatever rubbish it is they watch. I don’t have a TV. And I have a little secret – soon we’re going to have a lot less money to throw around, so those ludicrous subsidies wind companies are getting right now will soon be a lot less generous. But what are they going to do? Turn their juice off? Anyway the oil companies that are getting into this business late are going to be in for a shock.

    There’s an important meeting coming up, I’m sure you know, COP26, in Glasgow. Because of the pandemic, we’re making it a virtual meeting. Ha! No we’re not. We’re flying in twenty thousand hypocrites – er, I mean delegates, sorry, Freudian slip – from around the world, and there will be the usual useful idiots, the likes of Greenpeace and Extinction Whatever, demanding that we do the very thing we want to do anyway. Why can’t it be done over Zoom, or Whizz, or whatever it’s called? Well, people will record things, and some delegates will say some things they don’t want the public knowing about. It’s that simple. Everything has to be done behind closed doors.

    The Net Zero revolution is going to be hard. By which I mean it’s going to be easy. Er, it’s going to be easy for those of us who are numbered among the elite. For the rest of you, us, it’s going to be a lot harder. That’s why my next point, the last thing I want to talk about, is so important.

    The last thing I want to talk about is knowledge. When Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden, she suddenly realised she had no clothes on. Knowledge is important. And there are two kinds of knowledge, and I want to tell you that one is far more important in the twenty first century than the other. The first kind is knowing about the world around us. It’s thanks to this kind of knowledge that this country led the Industrial Revolution, that has been so destructive of the world. Learning how things work. How to fix things, how to maintain things, how to solve mathematical equations, program computers, manufacture chemicals. The other kind of knowledge though is far more important to us for our future. We know how people think, and if we know how people think, we can get more followers on Instagram, er, and we can ensure that the people don’t kick up too much of a fuss with all these changes that – necessarily – we are forcing upon them. What use the ability to mend a car when you won’t have a car to mend? You will though have the latest smartphone. So better to learn how to get more followers on your social media accounts than how to fix a car. And make sure you link to the most terrifying climate stories you come across on Twitter and Facebook. Because if the people are sufficiently afraid, they will put up with any indignity. That is the most important thing I have to tell you today.

    Thank you for listening, and thank you for doing all that you do for the cause. To those few of you who join the elite, I look forwards to seeing you at international meetings in the future. To the rest of you, I drink cappucino, and don’t scrimp on the chocolate.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. JIT
    Thanks for the correction on viruses/prions.

    JOHN RIDGWAY
    The mention of “we as educated people” is confirmation of the point I hammer on about – that the division between the further educated and the chavs has replaced social class as the prime motivating factor in political discourse. And the comment on Brexit (and hence obeying the will of the majority) being a “ridiculous mistake” justifies our occasional digressions into politics. There’s a nexus of beliefs that surround and support the climate message, and science is the least important factor of all.

    Deben’s off the cuff talk is ostensibly a reply to two interventions by student members of the commission. To give a flavour of how students think nowadays, here’s Commissioner Marveer Gil:

    “The FE roadmap and the HE toolkit I think they’ve really got the potential to be critical resources to assist universities on their individual journeys to net carbon neutrality and to being pioneers of action.”

    At one point Deben seems to imagine he’s addressing boardroom executives and not students when he talks about:

    …your first quarter’s results … Investors are asking questions about the companies in which they invest much more than they were before, and demanding those companies have sustainability progress.

    But he corrects himself and comes back on message.

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  10. Lord Deben nearly always mentions the Renaissance and/or the Black Death in such speeches. The Black Death mention above is standard gummerplate – nobody knew what caused the Black Death so all they could do was call it an Act of God and put up with it (a version of history that ignores countless supposedly mitigatory actions, many of them abhorrent) whereas we know what causes climate change so can do something about it – but the Renaissance mention is a bit different. For a start, it’s usually obvious that he is talking about the C15/C16 Renaissance. This is the first time I’ve seen him refer to the C12 version. Secondly, he usually mentions the Renaissance when talking about the end of Western imperialism, which he sees as requiring a change of thinking as great as that brought about by the (C15/C16) Renaissance. On this occasion he seems to be saying that the battle between rationality and emotions should have been decided in the former’s favour by the C12 Renaissance. Why would he think that? No idea. (He probably doesn’t even know himself.)

    Re Brexit, Lord Deben is firmly in the Lewandowsky camp: it’s fascism.

    Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Lew is firmly in Deben’s camp, because Deben described Brexit as fascism before the referendum had even been held whereas Lew only started tweeting about Brexit’s fascism a year or more after the vote.

    Here’s Deben speaking at a (Prince Charlie-inspired) traditionalist architectural conference in Feb 2015:

    It [tackling climate change] means being sensible about our membership of the European Union. The idea that we can’t even live with our neighbours if we don’t like it because they don’t always do what we want is, frankly, fascist. We have to learn to live with the rest of the world.

    O Lord Deben, what a very deep thinker you are! How very lucky we are to have you in our unelected upper chamber. (He mentioned the Renaissance in that speech too. Dunno about the Black Death. It was a terrible recording and I lost patience with it)

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  11. “And because you are professionally in the know as students, you should be at the forefront, and I thank you for all that you are doing to take on your responsibility”

    “professionally in the know as students”
    talk about inciting riots/etc against the dumb/dumbs that got a job/pay taxes at 16 (baristas – thanks JIT), bet the audience lapped it up.

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  12. JIT,
    Your clarification of Deben is brilliant.
    It makes me look forward to the arrival of your book all the more.

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  13. Let’s be fair to Lord Deben aka John Selwyn Gummer. He’s 82 years old, the son of the reverend Selwyn Gummer, the brother of Peter Selwyn Gummer and Mark Selwyn Gummer, and was educated at Selwyn College Cambridge. No wonder he rebelled and became a Catholic. No wonder most of his tweets (the most recent one being in June 2019) are about Brexit, which is clearly the most catastrophic event in his lifetime since the dissolution of the monasteries. On Twitter he describes himself as a climate change champion – actually, no, as “Climate Change Champion” which is subtly different.

    The fact that he is in charge of action to avert climate catastrophe for the UK – the country which boasts of being the world leader in the matter – suggests to me that our rulers are not really interested. Johnson will not be in power in 2030, so either the blame for our pathetic failure to meet our emissions targets will fall on someone else, or that someone else will have to commit electoral suicide by depriving voters of their cars and gas boilers.

    Will Deben still be tweeting about the need to rejoin the Holy Roman Empire in 2030? I’m sure we all hope so, and wish him well.

    The Guardian is the canary in the biomass in matters of climate change, and it’s notable that they’ve stopped giving a date by which the world will end and are concentrating more on preparing for World War Three (just yesterday they referred to the Ukraine as “our NATO ally” which is quite a scoop.) So don’t throw away your surgical masks come the end of lockdown. They may come in handy while digging your loved ones out of the rubble.

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  14. The trouble is that the climate change pressure is ratcheting up in the corporate world. We know about those odd charities and the CoE body that nags boards of directors about climate change and the environment but it’s starting to extend out. The EU is at the forefront, of course, but large investment firms are taking the initiative, such as BlackRock, which has written a letter to CEOs which could have come from the pen of Mark Carnage (former useless central banker of UK and Canada, now climate guru at the UN). Bankers are starting to make noises about environmental guff but, for the moment, they are still lending to miners and oil companies. Time will tell. The only impediment seems to be China.

    Is China trolling the EU? The EU have never liked Serbia much and it looks as if the Serbs have decided not to try to join the club, preferring to build tradional ties to Mother Russia. But China is an interesting ploy here. It will be interesting to see the EU response.

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  15. “… which risks becoming a massive stranded asset.”

    I always find it interesting to read alternate-reality comments like this. Investment in coal only risks becoming stranded if governments behave irrationally. If the Serbian government wants coal mines and coal power, it will have cheaper electricity than its competitors.

    Meanwhile in the UK we are shutting good, reliable coal plants that are fully paid down and have been operating with few hitches for more than 50 years. And we will have electricity that is more expensive than in Serbia. Maybe the UK risks becoming a stranded asset too?

    Here are Eurostat’s figures for electricity prices, for the first half of 2020 (values read off the graph):

    UK: about 0.22 Euros/kWh
    Serbia: about 0.07 Euros/kWh

    Liked by 2 people

  16. With energy costs in Serbia 1/4 those of Germany and 1/3 those in the UK, maybe it’s time for Britain to troll the UK and open a steel plant in Serbia using low-cost iron ore from the Ukraine. That might end up enriching Biden’s personal bank account, however

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Back in 2015, the European Commission reckoned that Serbia’s coal-fired Paris INDC pledge (which seems to have included Kostolac) was ‘an exemplary step’ on the path towards EU membership.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/11/european-commission-hails-fiddled-serbian-climate-pledge

    https://web.archive.org/web/20150729144738/http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/sefcovic/announcements/keynote-speech-eu-serbia-high-level-climate-change_en

    (I’m not trying to make a point. Just happy that my memory still sometimes works.)

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  18. Vinny, what’s your point re the Covid pic-du-jour? Can’t really decide if he is emerging from a coffin-shaped ventilator but contrasting the lightness of skin colour of Carlos in the picture on the banner behind him with his resurrection(?) flesh tones, might it be that Covid-19 now affords us the possibility of a racial transplant?

    Like

  19. Slightly off topic:
    JIT, your wonderful book has arrived. I ordered the paperback and it came in just a few days here in heart of Texas.
    The table of contents is intriguing, and I look forward to reading it soon. I absolutely love the cover design btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Alan, I’m not sure a darkening transplant would be politically advantageous in Mexico. It certainly wouldn’t be in large parts of Asia – and not always because of Western imperialism. (Phew!)

    Caption competition:

    Fatso former pastor masters resurrection?

    Novel coronavirus resurgence?

    Or something about doing a whoopsie. It does look like people saying farewell to a prodigiously flatulent friend who is letting rip for the last time as he lowers himself into his coffin.

    Like

  21. @ Hunterson, thank you for the kind words. The concept is a welcome sign for a US state of course; the front in colour and the back in black and white to illustrate the attitude of our alarmist friends. A friend commented that I should have made it photorealistic, but that was far beyond my ken. I usually have a handy designer to provide a cover, but on this occasion she was busy with other jobs and was only able to offer advice. I actually had to draw the main typeface myself using vague memories of 5×3 glyphs. I hope you enjoy it.

    Re: electricity prices. I noticed scrolling down the page at eurostat where the above figure derives, that there is another such figure for non-household customers. Here the UK is in second place in Europe, below only Germany in electricity costs (vs. about joint fifth for domestic consumer prices). A correlation with the proportion of renewables perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

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