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COP26 deal falters after 48 hours as US & Australia hint at no new targets next year

Net Zero Samizdat

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16 November 2021

COP26 deal falters after 48 hours as US and Australia hint at no new targets next year


1) COP26 deal falters after 48 hours as US and Australia hint at no new targets next year
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

2) China doubles down on its coal future after COP26 victory
Bloomberg, 16 November 2021

3) Despite COP26 rhetoric, China’s coal production is hitting all time highs
The Washington Post, 15 November 2021

4) Germany suspends approval for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

5) Benny Peiser: We have to start using our own natural gas instead of becoming increasingly dependent on Russia
Talk Radio, 16 November 2021

6) Walter Russell Mead: The COP26 Summit and the Global Age of Shams
The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2021

7) Rupert Darwall: After Glasgow we need a Net Zero referendum
The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2021

8) Welcome to Net Zero: Trafigura chief warns of rolling power outages in Europe this winter
Financial Times, 16 November 2021

9) John Longworth: Net Zero may be Boris Johnson’s undoing – and that of the Conservative Party
Daily Express, 16 November 2021

10) Andrew Lilico: Obsessed with Net Zero, we aren’t doing nearly enough to adapt to climate change
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

1) COP26 deal falters after 48 hours as US and Australia hint at no new targets next year
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

The COP26 deal faltered within 48 hours as the US and Australia, two of the world’s largest emitters, suggested they would not set new climate targets next year.

A key clause in the Glasgow Climate Pact asks countries to set out updated plans to cut emissions between now and 2030 by the end of 2022 in an effort to push more ambitious action over the next decade – seen as crucial to stem the most dangerous effects of global warming.

A joint statement released by Australia’s foreign and emissions reduction ministers on Sunday read: “Australia’s 2030 target is fixed and we are committed to meeting and beating it, as we did with our Kyoto-era targets.”

The country has come under fire for failing to set ambitious climate targets, with its aims barely updated ahead of this year’s conference. It is still heavily reliant on coal.

Appearing on the Australian talk show Insiders, Greg Hunt, the country’s health minister, also hinted that Australia might not make its aims more ambitious.

“We’ve set our target, but what we’ll continue to do is update our projections,” he said. Australia’s plan involves cutting emissions by 26 to 28 per cent compared to 2005.

The pact also states that global emissions need to fall by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels in order to limit global warming to 1.5C.

During the Cop26 process, other countries also suggested they might not update their plans. Among them was New Zealand, whose climate minister, James Shaw, said during the talks that just because they had been asked to strengthen the plans, “it doesn’t mean you have to”, prompting criticism from environmental groups.

The US cited language in the agreement which “requests” parties update their plans “as necessary” and “taking into account different national circumstances”.

John Kerry, Washington’s climate envoy, said the existing US climate plans fulfilled the requirements in the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rises to below 2C and make efforts towards limiting them to 1.5C.

Speaking hours after the agreement was finalised on Saturday, Mr Kerry said: “The language is necessary. I don’t expect it’s going to be necessary because our ambitious goal is 50 to 52 per cent [emissions cuts]… and that’s stretching the limits right now. We need to see what’s doable.”

On Monday in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson also suggested Britain would not update its targets.

Full story

2) China doubles down on its coal future after COP26 victory
Bloomberg, 16 November 2021

China extended its defense of coal’s future after diluting demands for action at the COP26 climate summit, insisting a transition away from the dirtiest fossil fuel must be gradual.

“In many developing countries, not everyone has access to electricity and energy supply is not adequate,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing Monday in Beijing. “Before asking all countries to stop using coal, consideration should be given to the energy shortfall in these countries.”

Both China and India, the biggest coal-consuming nations, have been ramping up output from mines in recent weeks to ease an autumn energy crisis that caused widespread power shortages and disrupted industrial activity.

India and China’s intervention at the Glasgow talks saw a call to accelerate the “phase-out” of unabated coal power downgraded to a pledge to “phase-down” use of the fuel.

COP26 President Alok Sharma, who apologized to the conference over the revisions, told the BBC the two nations will need to justify their actions to countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Efforts to “reduce the proportion of coal consumption is an incremental process,” that’ll require the developed world to both end use of the fuel earlier than developing nations and to offer those countries funding and technology to make the transition, Zhao said.

3) Despite COP26 rhetoric, China’s coal production is hitting all time highs
The Washington Post, 15 November 2021

Coal production in China has surged to its highest level in years even though Beijing promised to phase down use of the fossil fuel at the United Nations climate summit, where leaders lauded a new climate deal as the “death knell” for coal power.

China, the world’s largest polluter and consumer of coal, produced 357 million tons of coal in October, a level not seen in six years, according to data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. In the grips of an energy crisis, China has ramped up coal production to address power shortages, stressing that energy security is the government’s top priority.

Beijing’s continued reliance on coal, which accounts for more than half the country’s power generation, reflects the country’s competing priorities. China has promised to peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, while raising its share of non-fossil-fuel energy consumption. Chinese President Xi Jinping has also promised his country would stop funding overseas coal plants.

Yet on Saturday, as more than 200 nations in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiated a climate deal, delegates from China and India watered down language in the agreement on reducing the use of coal, proposing the term “phase down unabated coal” instead of “phase out.” Alok Sharma, president of the U.N. climate summit known as COP26, called on both countries Sunday to “explain themselves.”

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday that differences in development and resources should be “respected.”

Full story

4) Germany suspends approval for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

Germany on Tuesday suspended the certification process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

The German regulator said the suspension was “temporary” and it appeared to be a technical rather than a political decision.

But Russia is likely to see it as a hostile move and it could fuel growing tensions with the West.

Vladimir Putin has been pressuring Germany to approve Nord Stream 2, which will allow Russia to bypass existing pipelines through Ukraine.

Critics say the pipeline could undermine Ukraine because it currently gets transit fees from existing pipelines which run through the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opposed the development and said on Tuesday that maintaining “peace and stability” in Ukraine must be a priority.

The German regulator said it has suspended its approval process because Nord Stream 2 does not meet German and EU laws requiring pipeline operators to be separately owned from energy suppliers.

Full story

5) Benny Peiser: We have to start using our own natural gas instead of becoming increasingly dependent on Russia
Talk Radio, 16 November 2021

“We have to start using our own natural gas instead of becoming increasingly dependent on an erratic and crazy Russian government that obviously is using its dominance in energy to bully its neighbours.”

6) Walter Russell Mead: The COP26 Summit and the Global Age of Shams
The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2021

If there is one thing the world should take away from the Glasgow COP26 summit, it’s that the most dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions come from the front ends of politicians, not the back ends of cows.

Pandering is much more dangerous to human civilization than methane, strategic incompetence a graver threat than CO2; and dysfunctional establishment groupthink will likely kill more polar bears than all the hydrofluorocarbons in the world.

The 19th-century writer Thomas Carlyle wrote of an Age of Shams in prerevolutionary France, when the chattering classes and political leaders had so fundamentally lost contact with the underlying realities of the day that they could no longer understand the political challenges facing the French social order, much less respond to them. The elaborate rituals of court life in Versailles persisted, the ministers and bureaucrats went through the motions of governance, and intellectuals sparkled in the salons—while the French monarchy sailed, like the Titanic, toward its rendezvous with destiny.

COP26 was the kind of hollow ritual that characterized Carlyle’s Age of Shams. As one politician after another committed their countries to carefully crafted unenforceable pledges, none had the bad manners to observe that no country anywhere fully honored the climate pledges made with such fanfare in Paris six years ago. Even the pledges are insufficient to meet the stated goals of the U.N. climate process, and nobody is keeping the pledges.

The intellectual and political disarray on display in Glasgow was terrifying. President Biden boasted about America’s new climate goals and its dedication to them. Yet in the same week he begged OPEC+ to bail out the world economy and his presidency by pumping more fossil fuels. Let future presidents face the rough contours of a world without fossil fuels; this one means to get re-elected, no matter how much greenhouse gas spews into the sky.

Emerging-market countries had their own demands. The old magic number of $100 billion in annual climate finance to emerging markets has been discarded as pathetically insufficient. India alone now asks for $1 trillion by the end of the decade, and the total annual bill for emerging economies is estimated at $1.3 trillion. The only thing certain about this bill is that it will never be paid.

On the positive side, as more than one breathless journalist reported, after 30 years of intense United Nations negotiations over climate change, the final declaration in Glasgow mentioned fossil fuels for the first time. Admittedly, those 30 years of patient diplomacy have seen an inexorable rise in greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is a minor detail. One trembles with excitement to contemplate the wordsmithing breakthroughs from the next 30 years of international conferences.

No one should be surprised that COP26 failed to solve the climate problem. No coherent strategy for addressing a major, technically complex and politically sensitive issue has ever emerged or will ever emerge from a gathering of 30,000 people representing more than 190 countries and uncounted industry and nongovernmental groups.

Like much of what happens in international life, COP26 was less about solving difficult problems than helping politicians survive their inability to provide effective leadership on issues that matter. European and North American politicians bask in the coverage of their pledges and their declarations of concern; Asian and African leaders make sure the folks back home know how hard they are fighting for that trillion-dollar payout. Emissions continue to rise.

Climate change joins a growing list of vital problems that neither national governments nor international institutions seem competent to solve. The Covid pandemic left international institutions and national governments looking helpless. On the U.S. and European Union borders, mass migration produces a tragic mix of humanitarian crisis and populist rage. Almost 15 years after Vladimir Putin set about to dismantle the post-1990 order in Europe, neither the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nor the EU has found a way to counter him.

China has converted its illegal islands in the South China Sea into military bases without an adequate response. Iran roams unchecked across the Middle East.

Developments in cyber and biowarfare threaten to make arms control obsolete. Jihadi violence rages in more places today than 20 years ago; democracy is receding globally, as much of Latin America sinks into deep crisis; ethnic and religious conflicts in countries like Ethiopia, Syria and Nigeria point to a dimming future for much of the world.

Our problem is not that the climate is changing. It is that the world is becoming unmanageable. An Age of Shams must eventually end, but there’s no guarantee it ends well.

7) Rupert Darwall: After Glasgow we need a Net Zero referendum
The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2021

The Glasgow climate conference represents a strategic defeat for the West and for Britain in particular.

Boris Johnson threw the kitchen sink at it. The Royal Family hosted receptions for multi-billionaires. The Foreign Office sent climate envoys around the world. Glasgow would show the world that what France could do six years ago at the Paris climate conference, Britain could do better.

But whereas the French knew what they were doing in Paris, the British were all at sea in Glasgow. The result was a display of the rank amateurishness of the British state. Unsurprisingly, it ended in tears. Literally.

If Boris Johnson and his ministers had done their homework, they would have known they were on a hiding to nothing. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol failed because it excluded the developing world from cutting their emissions. The West attempted to remedy this at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 with a climate treaty that would bring the major emerging economies under a multilateral regime of emissions targets and timetables. The attempt was sunk by China, India, South Africa and Brazil acting in concert.

The West needed some sort of climate agreement to justify their domestic climate policies. Global warming is global. The West accounts for a declining share of global emissions. “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” Barack Obama had boasted in 2008. Obama and the West were desperate for a climate agreement, even a fig leaf of one.

The Paris agreement is the climate equivalent of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Sinatra Doctrine under which the captive nations of eastern Europe could do it their way. It signalled that the Soviet Union had lost the Cold War. In similar fashion, the Paris agreement signalled that the West had accepted its defeat and had given up its attempt to create a multilateral regime of emissions cuts. Instead, the Paris agreement is based on nationally determined contributions. Each party to the agreement would do it its way.

After Copenhagen, there was intense lobbying by small island states to tighten the temperature target from 2 degrees above industrial levels to 1.5 degrees. Their islands, they claimed, were in danger of sinking beneath the waves. The West swallowed the sinking island sob story, which is how 1.5 degrees came to be included in the Paris agreement as a subsidiary ambition to the 2 degree target. But it was dodgy science.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said later:  “Observations, models and other evidence indicate that unconstrained Pacific atolls have kept pace with [sea level rise], with little reduction in size or net gain in land”.

Because Paris included 1.5 in its text, the IPCC brought forward the indicative timetable for net zero from the second half of the current century to 2050. In the dying days of her premiership, Theresa May decided to make net zero her legacy. In 2019, it was incorporated as a binding target under the 2008 Climate Change Act after a ninety-minute debate in the House of Commons, even though MPs had no idea how much it would cost or whether it was remotely feasible. But one thing is clear.

However much net zero costs Britain, it is pointless for Britain to decarbonise if the rest of the world doesn’t. The regulatory impact assessment accompanying the Climate Change Act signed by Ed Miliband as climate and energy secretary could not have been clearer: “The UK continuing to act while the rest of the world does not, would result in a large net cost for the UK.” The benefits of UK climate action would be distributed around the world, but the UK would bear all the costs.

The Climate Change Act was passed in the run up to the Copenhagen climate conference which was going to produce a binding climate treaty. “Showing leadership through the Climate Change Act, the UK will help to drive a global deal,” Miliband asserted, showing that climate hubris is embraced by all Britain’s political parties. Now, for a second time, a UN climate conference has produced a dud.

The mantra of Britain leading and the rest of the world following has ended in tears and in humiliation. The question mark over net zero has been answered. After Glasgow, we now know that net zero is all pain for no gain. With Britain’s political class committed to the dead end of net zero, they will not act to take Britain off this disastrous path. Roll on a net zero referendum.

8) Welcome to Net Zero: Trafigura chief warns of rolling power outages in Europe this winter
Financial Times, 16 November 2021

Europe risks rolling power outages if there is a prolonged period of cold weather this winter, according to the chief executive of Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest commodity traders.

Speaking at the FT Commodities Asia Summit, Jeremy Weir said there was still insufficient natural gas in the region despite the promise of increased flows from Russia.

“We haven’t got enough gas at the moment quite frankly. We’re not storing for the winter period,” he said. “So hence there is a real concern that. . . if we have a cold winter that we could have rolling blackouts in Europe.”

President Vladimir Putin last month ordered Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom to begin filling the storage facilities it controls in Germany and Austria, boosting hopes that exports to Europe would rise.

However, there has been only limited increases in supply from Russia over the past week and on Monday Gazprom booked lower pipeline capacity for December. Russia has denied restricting exports to Europe but has been accused by lawmakers of trying to put pressure on Germany to speed up the authorisation of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

European wholesale prices eased slightly last month but remain more than four times the level of a year ago and have risen in recent days. Some industries have already cut production as a result of record prices, including Trafigura’s Nyrstar zinc business, but there remain fears that the market will remain tight until the spring. Europe is heavily reliant on gas after phasing down coal-fired power generation.

Governments would be expected to cut gas supply to non-essential industries before allowing the electricity grid to be affected, but Weir’s comments illustrate the depth of concern in the energy sector.

Full story

9) John Longworth: Net Zero may be Boris Johnson’s undoing – and that of the Conservative Party
Daily Express, 16 November 2021

It may be that Net Zero will be the undoing of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, a conceit too far on the part of the chattering classes of Hampstead, Islington and Richmond, not to mention St James Palace, at the high tax and energy cost expense of working families.

AT first sight it would seem crazy to all but the climate change religious zealots for a Conservative government to risk its reputation, not least as a low tax party, in order to be a leader and example to the world on the agenda of Carbon reduction.

It is axiomatic that, even if the UK were to become 100 per cent green it would not materially impact global carbon emissions since the UK represents just one per cent of those emissions.

We’ve still got a small government, low tax party in charge (even if their most recent budget suggests otherwise), and reaching net zero in the timescales promised is a very costly exercise indeed; one which risks putting the UK, at least in the short to medium term, at an economic disadvantage to competitor nations.

It may be that this will be the undoing of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, a conceit too far on the part of the chattering classes of Hampstead, Islington and Richmond, not to mention St James Palace, at the high tax and energy cost expense of working families.

It may be Johnson’s poll tax moment albeit in slow motion.

It may be, however, that looking back in 50 years’ time will tell a different story.

The measure of success of the net zero policy is dependent on the objectives against which it is measured.

A measure of failure would be if the cost of Britain’s adherence to net zero was to cost manufacturing jobs and a general relative underperformance of the economy, which would otherwise be ripe for super growth having been freed up by Brexit.

Especially so if the rest of the world continues to forge ahead with economic growth and the power that comes with it: China, India, Russia etc.

There is an old saying: those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad. History tells us that societies collapse from within because they become decadent, fixated on the ephemeral, putting the marginal matters above those of real importance. Promoting a reset in favour of the new green religion is a manifestation of this.

It would prove to be as catastrophic a policy as was appeasement in the 1930s and would be particularly irksome as it would be the height of hypocrisy on many levels.

It ignores the fact that we continue to “export” our manufacturing base, continue to buy Chinese goods and thus continue to support Chinese carbon emissions.

Those emissions are our emissions so long as we demand those goods.

One solution to this which has been floated, would be to erect green tariffs as a tax on pollution.

No doubt this would be popular amongst protectionist types and those with vested interests, such as those involved in agriculture.

Such people have tried everything to shore up monopolistic behaviour, the green agenda being just another tool in the box.

Corporates who wish to erect barriers to market entry are another example; again, this would be paid for by working families and the poorest in society.

For those of us who believe in free markets, the boosting of the economy through tax cuts and deregulation is much more attractive.

That of course does not rule out action where there is dumping or unfair competition such as that subsidised by foreign governments.

Free markets can only, really, be fully applied within nations.

After all there is no world economic policy, no global policeman of economic behaviour (to think this is the WTO is to misunderstand its modus operandi) just as there is no consensus on climate change.

However, what is interesting about the COP26 approach of Johnson is that it potentially (and possibly accidentally) solves two problems.

One of these is related to climate change politics and one related to a matter entirely separate; that of national security in an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable world. Both are tangential to the actual purpose of COP26, but are politically and strategically important.

The first derives from the fact that the UK has now gone further than most on climate change and this has brought into sharp focus where the problem lies – with other countries.

This puts the UK green lobby in a difficult position.

They now, in reality, have little to protest about and should pack up and go to any one of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia etc.

The difficulty is that they will not of course do this because those other countries would not tolerate such activity and because, along with the cancel culture movement, they are at heart comparable to an anarchist and/or communist insurgency, no doubt encouraged by our enemies while those other countries continue to promote their goal of economic and political dominance.

None the less, Britain’s “progressive” green agenda provides the Government with a difficult-to-remove “fig leaf” underpinned by considered policy rather than the utterances of a troubled, late adolescent.

The matter of national security is of more importance. Reflecting on this conference in the world of 25 years’ time, the COP26 commitments of the UK may be looked upon as a stroke of genius, provided the Government adjust our delivery of net zero slightly.

Bearing in mind that there is no way British tax payers and businesses would back the proposed expenditure on climate change instead of for the purposes of security, in respect of a not yet fully perceived threat, the use of a quasi-religious belief in “saving the planet” provides opportunity for a superb “left hand, right hand” contouring trick to achieve the same outcome.

This is particularly so given that the timescales for the security solution are even longer than those for climate change and are outside the ken of the three year term CEOs of the business world and four year term of (some) governments.

All this in a democratic country up against the long-term horizons of the dictatorship of despots and state sponsored, non-democratic, or dare I say fascist, regimes.

Wind-generated power provides a dispersed and independent source of energy. It will never be economic compared to fossil fuels and therefore requires subsidy through taxes and through hidden high-cost energy bills. It is also impossible for it to provide a significant proportion of our energy, but it can contribute. Wind power can also be “stored” via gas to hydrogen.

By contrast nuclear power is capable of providing all or most of our energy requirements and is again, entirely sovereign provided we “own” the technology.

Nuclear has high, upfront capital costs but these are more than repaid over the life of a reactor, unlike short lived wind turbines, and average energy costs can be as cheap as fossil fuels.

Nuclear fulfils the green agenda and it is the descendants of the anarchists who destroyed our civil nuclear programme who are now protesting in favour of “saving the planet”.

Never have so many seen such irony and hypocrisy generated by so few.

What the Government needs to do, in the short term, continue with wind, but in conjunctions with the extraction of gas from the sea around Britain and from the land via an ambitious programme of fracking.

This will serve as an energy bridge given the long development timescales of nuclear. Once nuclear is fully developed, the gas industry will then continue to provide the raw material for hydrogen fuel for aeroplanes, cars and possibly homes. This approach will reduce cost and lead to the same outcome both for climate change and security.

Nuclear development currently takes excessive time and requires fast track planning approval. Initially we need to build conventional large reactors to meet demand, but eventually the new concept Rolls-Royce mini reactors may come into their own.

With this agenda, the next 25 years would see Britain become entirely energy secure with no possibility of any other nation applying pressure or holding us to ransom. It would also reduce the eye watering costs of the net zero commitments but produce the same result for Britain. It would enable the continued pursuit of economic growth.

So, Boris may be at least an accidental COP26 genius after all. A nudge towards this approach may also be reason for even those who are rightly sceptical about the carbon reduction rage to see a security purpose in the Government’s agenda, accidental or not. It does depend, however, on the Government getting the journey right.

John Longworth is Chairman of the Independent Business Network, entrepreneur and former DG of the British Chambers of Commerce. He was a Conservative MEP.

10) Andrew Lilico: Obsessed with Net Zero, we aren’t doing nearly enough to adapt to climate change
The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2021

COP26 was not a complete failure, but it has repeated a pattern of the past 30 years.

Many countries’ politicians make warm noises about climate change at international shindigs, and as countries get richer they naturally tend to take more care of the environment, but when it comes to doing as much as might be required to actually prevent the Earth from warming, only the Western Europeans, amongst the major countries, do even close to enough.

Market and taste-driven technological changes are delivering more in the way of carbon abatement than many of the gloomier climate predictions of the past expected, and there are some game-changing further possibilities coming over the horizon, such as driverless cars (hugely increasing the energy efficiency of independent travel) and lab-grown meat (freeing up vast acreages of grazing lands for reforestation). But the reality is that, for all the warm words of politicians, there simply isn’t the will, at the global level, to do enough to prevent the Earth from warming materially more than the target of “1.5 degrees centigrade”, relative to the pre-industrial era, set by Western leaders.

Let us be clear what that 1.5 degrees target really means. The Earth is already 1.19 degrees centigrade warmer than the pre-industrial temperature, and warming at around 0.18 degrees per decade. So sticking to a 1.5 degrees rise would mean very little material change from the temperature we are at now.

It was said at the Cop summit that to achieve that target there would need to be commitments to phase out coal. “Phase out” is something of a misnomer here, as it might give the impression that coal use is currently at a low level, internationally, and it is just a matter of winding down the residual. Nothing could be further from the truth. Coal use has plateaued for over a decade at a very high level and Chinese use in 2021 will be at an all-time high. Coal use in advanced economies has fallen (though not by nearly as much as it might have done had green activists not impeded a fuller-blooded transition to nuclear power). But that has not come close to offsetting rises in China and the rest of the world.

The debacle over the change in the wording of the Cop commitment from “phasing out” coal to merely “phasing down” illustrates the perennial problem with these climate conferences, and with climate action more generally, that international coordination on the scale that would be required to prevent climate change has not proven feasible. Grand speeches are made. The UK exceeds its promises. The EU does a lot. The US administration enters into undertakings it knows Congress will never accept, purely for the purposes of bashing its political opponents at home. And the politicians of other countries either refuse to take part or cynically smile and nod knowing that once they go home nothing of substance will happen.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I don’t particularly regret this myself. Virtually every serious economic analysis ever done on global warming policy demonstrates that adapting to climate change is a vastly superior approach to attempting to prevent it. But the point I want to emphasize is that it doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not. The reality is that climate change mitigation efforts are not going to come close to being sufficient to prevent the climate from changing.

Some countries accept that the climate will change and have fairly clear strategies in response. China’s strategy is to grow as rapidly as possible so that when serious climate change comes (which it will) China will be richer, and richer countries and households will be more resilient to climate change and more able to adapt.

In the UK we need to ponder how we respond to that reality. Our strategy appears to be to assume that other countries will eventually embrace mitigation, at a “net zero” type level or something close, and when they do so Britain will be seen as a thought leader and also have a head-start as an incubator of the relevant technologies and methods.

This would not be an obviously daft strategy (setting aside the general objection to mitigation efforts I mentioned above) if the world were indeed going eventually to go green. But at present that seems very unlikely. And a strategy of “mitigation in one country” risks leaving us poorer without any material benefit in terms of reducing global climate change. If we are poorer than we might otherwise have been, we shall be less able to adapt.

Significant climate change is coming, whether you like it or not and whether preventing it is still possible or not. There simply isn’t the global consensus that would be required to act enough to prevent it. When that change comes, it will mean we need to devote considerable resources to adapting to the new world we will find ourselves in. This adaptation should include practical solutions, such as upgraded flood defences, which, unfortunately for the politicians, isn’t as shiny as some of the more far-fledged climate technologies that we are told to look forward to.

Now is the time to ask whether the resources we are currently devoting to an increasingly obviously futile attempt to prevent climate change would be better re-purposed to helping us to adapt when it happens.