I need to start by stating I was at COP26 for just one day.
Although in some ways it’s more accurate to say I was in the city of Glasgow for one day, because a huge part of a COP event is held behind a massive wall of security, very few people like me or even people I’ve met would have been allowed inside the fortified perimeter.
There was a very heavy police presence with massive road blocks and surrounding the ‘blue zone’.
When you are in the middle of this maelstrom of scientists, engineers, lobbyists and politicians from around the world, I think it’s difficult to judge how much interest the rest of humanity is taking has for all this frenzied activity.
I would not wish to suggest that the viewing figures on the Fully Charged Show would be a safe metric, but they might give an indication.
We released a climate specific episode immediately after we’d shown it in the iMax cinema in Glasgow during an event organised by the UK’s National Grid.
This episode got the lowest number of views of any show we’ve ever put out in 11 years.
It didn’t get a low ‘likes’ count, or scores of negative comments, anything but. Comments were incredibly positive, encouraging us to make more similar episodes.
But here’s a question, why is it that our loyal and and well informed audience from around the world (only 27% of Fully Charged Show audience live in the UK) decided to avoid watching a show which, clearly from the design of the YouTube thumbnail, is about young people, climate change and the challenges we all face.
Is it that many of the people who watch the Fully Charged Show are already very aware, conversant and active because of the scientific evidence regarding the long term impact of our emissions.
Is it that our audience is slightly older and are now tired of being told by increasingly vocal and climate literate young people how we are to blame for much that is rapidly going wrong with the fragile ecosystem we inhabit?
I don’t think so. But on my way back from Glasgow, (in an electric car obviously) I drove along the M6 motorway being overtaken by endless heavy petrol and diesel SUVs.
It feels like a large number of people in the developed world are managing to pretty effectively ignore this debate or the insistence from thousands of scientists that we need to change our behaviour.
I just want to explain that when making a long journey (326 miles each way) I drive at the UK highway speed limit of 70 mph or 110 kph.
This means everyone who overtakes me is 1, breaking the speed limit and equally importantly nearly doubling their fuel consumption.
A case in point. A 2019 Range Rover Sport driving at 70 mph consumes a gallon if fossil fuel every 17 or 18 miles. At 80 mph its down to 10 mpg. At 90 miles an hour it’s down to around 7 mpg.
Am I making these figure up to make a holier-than-thou point?
No, I was told these figures by a group of charming engineers who work for JLR and build Range Rovers.
So if you’re one of the 278,000 people who bought a brand new Range Rover in 2019, you clearly do not give a flying fart about the impact your actions are having on the environment we all share.
And this lack of interest or care is reinforced by a huge budget from the fossil fuel industry to super-spread a non stop fire hose of misinformation, confusion and doubt about the best solution.
And they were busy little shit bees at COP26, green washing like there’s endless tomorrows left.
The only official event I attended was the panel discussion organised by the National Grid at the IMAX cinema in the ‘green zone’ which is a part of the international conference open to the public.
We showed a Fully Charged Show episode we made in conjunction with the UK National Grid where 4 young people asked 4 experts questions about the choices we face and the possible solutions we could utilise.
I have to say this looked amazing on a massive screen, the quality of what we can now produce is amazing when I think back to the crudity of the first few episodes.
We then had what was I think an informative and interesting panel discussion round the topics of electric ground transport and the developments and barriers to mass adoption.
When questions were opened to the public, a rather angry woman started to ask a question, she was reading from her smart phone so her question rapidly turned into a statement.
The gist was anger at the USA National Grid which is involved in constructing a pipeline to carry fracked gas, an activity I admit I didn’t know they were involved in.
As the woman continued her increasingly angry statement a few other people held up a banner to underline her points. I couldn’t see what it said as I was sitting right behind the activists, but I found the whole thing at once baffling and fascinating.
They absolutely had a point, as it turns out the National Grid company are installing a fracked gas pipeline right through a densely populated area of North Brooklyn in the USA.
But as always it’s possible they could have argued it in a different place of maybe in a different way.
The audience who attended a panel discussion at COP26 focussed around the views of young people were only there because they were very well informed, and as one of them politely and calmly said after the activists had finished making their statement, ‘you’ve made your point, we’ve all seen it, can you go now.’
And to be fair the people who unrolled the banner and read out the statement left without further a do.
The rest of the audience then asked numerous challenging and interesting questions and the two young people on the panel answered with incredible clarity and an impressive grasp of the current situation.
And the reason I mentioned the folks driving along the motorway in their huge fossil powered 3 ton rumblers was none of them would have been at this event.
They wouldn’t even know it took place.
They might not even know that the vast majority of the people they drive past think they are tossers, and what’s more they don’t care.
If those activists unfurled a banner criticising SUV’s at some posh country club, I’m sad to report it would have zero impact other than someone would call security.
And indeed some activists did let down a lot of tyres of large SUVs in Glasgow on the last night of COP26. According to 2 dozen different news outlets no damage was done to any vehicles, they let down the tyres and put what looked like a fake parking ticket under the windshield wiper suggestion the owner get a smaller car or use public transport.
Only one British newspaper, the fanatical right wing Sun, claimed that ‘thugs slashed tyres in frenzied attack’ but the people who work at the Sun are tossers so who cares.
So it was a sobering event, and the agreement is, as was always expected, watered down as much as possible due to unimaginable lobbying and political pressure from the fossil fuel lobby who were attending COP26 in force.
Climate activists might annoy dull old twats like Jeremy Clarkson, but the real strong, powerful influence that controls events like our governments, and COP events in particular are the people who we would never see on a demonstration, people who have never held a placard or chanted a slogan, people you could meet socially and find charming.
They hold the power, they know how to use it, and they will fight, and bribe and blackmail and con and bully to keep as many people locked into a fossil fuel based economy and global energy system for as long as possible.
Here’s their latest success and it’s huge. The reason that COP26 was not a success was “because of India and China.”
Them, over there, look at them, they’re burning coal. The rotters, we over here, we’re all doing everything we can over here in the developed world. Why should I ditch my massive petrol SUV when China and India are doing all the damage?
Meanwhile we’re subsidising the fossil fuel industry in various ways, all around the world, with literally billions of dollars of tax payers money.
It’s a brilliant scam, you’ve got to hand it to them, they know how to manipulate a market and spread the blame to make us feel we’re at fault.
I do believe the fossil fuel lobbyists and their vile paymasters will eventually lose, the human race will stop burning fossil fuels but right now, with huge sadness, I believe it will be too late.