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The Heat is on, Everywhere ....

Temperatures rising all over the planet. And beyond boiling at Westminster. Calls for a Malestrom mea culpa, and a cautionary word from our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer. If bad language offends, close this link now and feed the cat.

The Swedish activist and in some minds minor deity Greta Thunberg set the tone at the COP26 global emergency conference in Glasgow last week.

She joined activists protesting at a lack of actual action in a song: ‘You can shove your climate crisis up your arse.’

And, across the river from the venue, she added: ‘We say, ‘No more blah blah blah, no more exploitation of people and nature and the planet.

‘No more whatever the f*ck they’re doing inside there.’

But next day she showed her gentler side, tweeting: ‘I am pleased to announce that I’ve decided to go net-zero on swear words and bad language.

‘In the event that I should say something inappropriate I pledge to compensate that by saying something nice.’

But the point was made. And sharply underlined later by Sir Michael Barber, a former head of the Number Ten delivery unit.

He warned that the ‘slew of commitments and announcements’ coming out of the summit are not enough.

‘A target without a plan is just a wish.

‘The risk is that when the jamboree leaves town everyone will go home and simply breathe a sigh of relief .. That would be disastrous.’

Sure would. Especially given the scale of the promises made. And the caveats.

More than forty countries have agreed to junk coal-fired power, the dirtiest fuel source, within the next couple of decades.

But some of the biggest culprits, including Australia, China, India and the US, aren’t up for it.

On the plus side, since a deal was struck in Paris six years ago the number of new coal plants planned has already been cut by three-quarters.

Also, separately, nearly two hundred countries and organisations say they’re going to ditch fossil fuels in the next decade.

Then there’s the second biggest polluter, methane. And here too there are promises aplenty.

Just over a hundred countries have signed up to cutting emissions of the gas by almost a third within the next few years.

The biggest source of this stuff that’s down to us is farming, including, ahem, rude noises made by livestock.

That could be down to every one of us, in a very specific way. More veggies, fewer carnivores? But it’s not that simple, unfortunately.

You think a nice little meat-free guilty pleasure would be much less harmful to the planet than a beef burger? Think again.

Experts say chocolate is a leading reason why so many planet-preserving trees get cut down, so cocoa can be planted instead.

Still, in the first major deal struck in Glasgow last week, more than a hundred world leaders promised to end deforestation within this decade.

Between them, the countries signed up cover about eighty-five-percent of the world’s woods.

Depressingly, however, analysts have concluded that a not dissimilar deal struck seven years ago ‘failed to slow deforestation at all’.

Which brings us back to the misgivings expressed by Greta Thunberg and the Number Ten delivery guy.

And ties in with the disconnect between the US President’s warm words about cooling the planet and his way of getting around Glasgow.

What with his round trip on Air Force One and his monumental motorcade flown over, it’s estimated he used up more than two million pounds of carbon.

Rather a lot.

Then there was Bojo citing James Bond, ‘strapped to a doomsday device, desperately trying to work out which coloured wire to pull out to turn it off.

‘The tragedy is this is not a movie, and the doomsday device is real,’ he added.

Which didn’t keep him off the naughty step for failing to call time on a new coal mine in Cumbria. And fits with findings of a Portland Communications poll.

More than half the respondents backed punishing environmentally damaging behaviour.

But, bit of a big but this, only seven per cent thought ‘my family and me, and other families like mine’ should stump up for it.

Worth bearing in mind the context here. There’s an emerging scientific consensus regarding this year’s floods and forest fires.

They really were thanks to global heating. This summer was the hottest on record in Europe, temperatures around one degree centigrade above normal.

Hence rising sea levels everywhere. And the misery, premature deaths and starvation suffered by people in low-lying corners of the globe.

Which gives the last word on the ongoing proceedings in Glasgow to John Vidal, a former

Guardian Environment Editor.

‘It’s not the expectation that is unbearable with COP26,’ he wrote, ‘it is the hope.’

An adaptation there of a brilliant line from the John Cleese character in the movie Clockwise.

Another famous film sequence comes to mind in regard to Boris Johnson’s big blooper of the week in Westminster.

The Italian Job/the utter demolition of a truck/the look on Michael Caine’s face, and what he had to say on the subject.

‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.’

The former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson had been banged well and truly to rights for breaking the rules on MP’s lobbying on behalf of companies.

The judgement was that making all that money out of it cast him as, far from the messiah, a very naughty boy.

Upshot being six weeks’ suspension, possibly getting kicked out of parliament as a result, thus triggering a politically awkward by-election.

Johnson’s way of protecting him, and himself, was taking out the bloody doors of the commons’ internal judge and jury system.

But the whole thing blew up in his face. Spectacularly.

Against their better judgement, mostly, enough Conservative MP’s backed him to win the vote for change.

There was sympathy, as Paterson’s wife was so traumatised by the trouble he was in that she committed suicide.

But the backlash was that widespread and that intense it was KO for PM. His consigliere Jacob Rees-Mogg didn’t come out of it smelling of roses either.

As the ever tactful and diplomatic Daily Star put it, ‘Bozo and Rees-Smug did a fast and furious U-turn over a sleazy MP.

‘Bozo was “very sad” his chum quit. You bet he was. Well, we didn’t see that U-turn coming. Said nobody. Ever.’

The punters’ response was every bit as biting. Last week’s YouGov poll for The Times cut the Tory lead over Labour from between six and ten points to just one.

Unlike the Spanish Inquisition, perhaps that was to be expected.

But it’s not just the Tory brand that’s taken a hit, it’s parliament itself. Reminiscent of the MPs’ expenses scandal twelve years ago.

Little wonder Paterson isn’t exactly the darling of his – now former – commons colleagues.

In the lobby for what turned out to be his last vote before throwing in the towel, a Conservative MP told him to his face he was a …

Modesty precludes an exact quote here. Suffice it to say the word rhymes with ‘front’. Or ‘brunt’.

Not a happy bunny, that one. Well, either of them, come to think of it.

Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.


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