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G7 and COP-26: Fiasco Foretold

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I’m not sure what coincidence has the UK hosting both the G7 and COP-26 within months of each other, but there we are: two rather visible “opportunities” for Boris to go grandstanding on the world stage and promote whatever vision he has of post-Brexit Britain.  And he’s already decided they must go ahead in the flesh, carbon footprint and all.  What could go wrong?

It’s COP-26 that could go wrong: but the G7 may play a role in this too.

G7 itself will always be relatively straightforward: it’s a meeting of friends (more or less), all fairly united against, *ahem*, China & Russia & general global wickedness, all happy to subscribe to a self-congratulatory closing communiqué.  It’s being held in sunny Cornwall with the usual excellent preparations (we are still very good at this kind of thing).  Local businesses and residents that might be adversely impacted have been given a bung to holiday somewhere else for the duration.  There’s a big local RAF station (with one of the world’s longest runways) nearby for security, and making Biden’s people feel comfortable.  (Check it out on google earth – there’s a baseball diamond right in the middle …)  Many of the entourages will be housed on a cruise ship offshore Falmouth, nicely out of harm’s way.

BUT.  The protesters are massing.  Us all being democracies, like, this is to be, errr, accepted if not really encouraged.  OK, it’s quite hard for XR to intercept VIPs who are being helicoptered in from very secure locations … but hey, it’s summertime; some of these nutters like to spend their summers stoned and causing trouble on the beaches around Newquay anyway; they’ve become pretty adept at making spectacles of themselves; and the media love a good visual …

Hopefully not: but I think we may foresee some bother.  But that could be quite domestic in scale (and easy to contain) compared with what might happen in Glasgow in November when something like 30,000 delegates show up.  Some of those will essentially be protesters themselves – and try keeping them all out of harm’s way.  Does Boris have a plan that ends triumphantly for him?  It doesn’t seem that there could be any certainty about that in advance.

  • the protesters will have had a dry run at G7, and will potentially have some scores to settle with Plod.  There’s many a conference in the past that is mostly known for the fisticuffs.
  • the EU won’t exactly be cheering Boris on.
  • so many countries now have “legally binding” zero-carbon targets, there’s loads of scope for legalistic nit-picking about whether Enough Is Being Done – quite sufficient to derail a closing statement of the kind the hosts always want to make.

After herculean diplomatic efforts before and during, the French only just pulled this off at COP-21 in 2015, and then, only by a sleight of hand – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, hahah! – that everyone’s rumbled now.  Indeed, it was widely pilloried for its emptiness almost immediately afterwards.

We may be sure the NGOs will be after something as lot more tangible this time.  Sadly, I fear this means Boris will do something tremendously stupid on our behalf to get his headlines.  Oh dear.



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