The internet is awash currently with stories about COP 26 in Glasgow. It’s very difficult to get away from it, especially if you make the mistake of spending much time on the websites of the Guardian or the BBC, who are indulging in an orgy of COP 26 reporting, with no story too remote or tangential, it seems, to justify being pushed as part of the propaganda (for make no mistake, propaganda it is). At the moment of writing, the front page of the news section (or what passes for news) of the BBC website is pushing 15 separate articles relating to climate change and/or COP 26 at its readers/viewers. I lost count at the Guardian.

The strange thing is that, trying to be objective, and assuming that there is a climate crisis, with Glasgow being the last best chance to save the planet, the shenanigans surrounding COP 26 (and many previous COPs, for that matter) seem like a mighty funny way of going about it.


What does a bad COP look like? Well, I would say it’s one where 25,000-30,000 free-loading hangers-on jet in from all over the world, with many of them being put up in cruise liners which sit at anchor with their diesel engines belching out CO2; I would say it’s an event where the number of visitors overwhelms the locality where the event is taking place, so that the news media is full of stories for weeks leading up to the event about people attending having difficulty in finding accommodation at a reasonable price, or at any price at all. I would say it’s an event where attendees turn up in such numbers that they end up being housed some considerable distance from the venue(s) and where fleets of diesel-powered generators are on stand-by to charge the masses of virtue-signalling electric vehicles that are kept available to shuttle the serried ranks vast distances from their accommodation to the events.

I should think it would be an event where the BBC runs an article with the headline “COP26: Aircraft carrying world leaders excite planespotters”i and the ludicrous story:

As world leaders and delegates descend on Glasgow for COP26, Scotland’s airports have been filling up with planes from across the globe.

Planespotters at Prestwick Airport in South Ayrshire described the conference as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to spot aircraft not normally seen in Scotland.

Over the past week, cargo planes have been spotted arriving, with some carrying motorcade vehicles and helicopters.

Aircraft from Africa, the Middle East and South America were among those that touched down on the opening day of the conference.

I would say it’s an event where the President of the United States travels on from a G20 conference at Rome where he arrived via an 85-vehicle cavalcade, some of which were flown over from the United States specially for the purpose. I would say it’s an event where people like Brendan O’Neill writes glorious proseii castigating the privileged elites for their hypocrisy in lecturing the little people about how to live their lives.

Good COP

What would a good COP look like, if one is concerned about a supposed climate crisis and wants the outcome of a COP to be real progress towards reducing dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late?

Well, first of all, it wouldn’t be a party, a glorious jamboree, with sideshows and two weeks of events and pilgrimages on foot and by ‘plane from here, there, and everywhere. The only people attending would be those necessary to deal with the subject-matter, to negotiate seriously and make progress on the big issues. As a commercial lawyer, I have participated in many contentious and difficult negotiations, and I can say with confidence that it is always easier to make progress the fewer people there are in the room.

A good COP might make use of modern technology so that greenhouse gas emissions associated with the event were minimised. Non-essential participants who might occasionally be called on to express their expert opinions might stay at home and contribute by Zoom as and when their input could add value. National leaders might even do the same, so that we wouldn’t see quotes such as thisiii in connection with their behaviour:

US President Joe Biden has addressed disappointment by some about what was agreed at the G20 ahead of COP26.

Speaking in Rome, Mr Biden said China and Russia “basically didn’t show up” on matters of the climate.

Neither China’s President Xi Jinping, nor Russia’s Vladimir Putin, were in Italy’s capital for the conference, instead joining via video link.

A good COP would be sober and serious, it would be an event where the participants didn’t spend their time jostling for their soundbites to be picked up and reported by the media. A good COP would involve serious effort and studious progress. A good COP would involve experts having designed some solutions to the problems, so that they could be deployed by realistic leaders determined to make progress that was achievable and meaningful, rather than merely aspirational, but headline-making.

What would a good COP look like? Actually, I don’t really know. We haven’t had one yet.


Given that good COPs are as rare as unicorns, what’s it all about? Why do our politicians, media, world leaders, scientists, activists, and general hangers-on behave the way they do? I don’t know, truth to tell. I can only suspect that it’s because they’re not actually interested in progress. Instead, they’re interested in a process, a process that enables them to frighten us, to control us, and to keep on partying like there’s no tomorrow. All I know is that if they were serious, COP 26 would look very different.






  1. Well done!

    “I can say with confidence that it is always easier to make progress the fewer people there are in the room.” Absolutely agree but it gets worse in this instance. Many of the delegates are attending because they have an emotional desire to do something and lack the expertise and background to make reasonable contributions to the negotiations. Nonetheless they will speak and the discussion will spiral out of control on a tangential topic as others of the same ilk chime in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark,

    You ask what a good COP would look like. Unfortunately, it seems you will have to turn up to the bad COP to get your answer:

    “Two of Scotland’s leading lights in the property sustainability space have joined forces in a collaboration which highlights the potential environmental gains that new and emerging technologies can bring to existing city buildings.

    COP26 principal partner, energy provider and sustainability consultant, SSE, and building performance analysists, IES, have combined to emphasise potential net-zero solutions via a digital model of the COP26 venues.

    A unique ‘digital twin’ of the campus location has been developed and will be showcased at the UN’s much-anticipated climate conference. The campus includes the SSE Hydro, SEC Armadillo, SEC Centre, car parks and surrounding land. The campus’ management is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and is actively working with SSE on a number of fronts to achieve its sustainability goals.

    Part of SSE’s AR Demonstrator Platform for Smart Cities, the virtual campus will give visitors the ability to immerse themselves in a live representation of the site. This will allow people to discover what future net zero solutions could look like, provide an understanding of how this could be achieved and what the results could be.”

    So there you have it. You can either go into the foyer of the Armadillo building and join in with the pixies and fairies exploring climate change through the medium of dance, or you can visit the SSE/IES stand and immerse yourself in a digitally created La La Land that fantasizes the building that you should be in. Either way, you can blithely ignore the brutal truth:

    “Revealed: ‘Shocking’ carbon footprint of COP26 venues. Two flagship venues hosting the upcoming COP26 climate change summit have received the second lowest possible rating for energy efficiency, with work yet to commence on a raft of legally binding improvements issued by assessors in order to reduce CO2 emissions.”

    To be honest, I don’t understand how this can be. Haven’t they already sorted this all out by illuminating the Armadillo in green light?

    P.S. I was going to write all of this up in an article called ‘Good Armadillo, Bad Armadillo’, but in the end I couldn’t be bothered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OK, so it’s not an original title, and I can’t claim copyright or anything, but they might have asked – from this month’s edition of my online Oxford Law newsletter:

    “Bad COP, Good COP?
    Professor Lavanya Rajamani and why climate talks matter”

    “…Many of the legal cases, on which she is consulted, involve questions which follow what happened at Paris: where nations were asked to set their own targets and decide if they were doing enough in terms of tackling climate change. The problem is, it is far from clear nations are doing as much as they can and should – which is why the courts have become involved.

    Countries are effectively marking their own homework, setting the standards by which their action can be judged – and that has caused an unexpected bonanza for the legal community, with lawyers around the world now embroiled in environmental cases. She explains, national courts are being asked to judge if countries are setting targets that are ambitious enough to address the scale and urgency of the problem, ‘What are the bench marks by which you can tell if a country is doing enough?
    How do we know if a country is doing enough, when the criteria they use [for calculating and measuring the ambition and fairness of their targets] are different – or are self-serving?’

    ‘Most developed countries are doing far less than they should,’ says Professor Rajamani bluntly. ‘…”


  4. haha – they nicked your post header. cheeky sods 😦

    when she says –
    “The problem is, it is far from clear nations are doing as much as they can and should – which is why the courts have become involved”

    I can’t help but wonder why the courts have become involved & what that will achieve anyway (apart from jumping a potentially lucrative “Gravy Train”)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.