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A climactic climax every time

It looks like we all missed a major story:

After tense and protracted negotiations, delegates at the United Nations climate conference COP28 have agreed on a deal that calls on countries to transition away from fossil fuels. It is the first time that nations have agreed to such a transition, and marks a major step forward in climate ambitions.

Wired magazine, referring to the 28th UN climate conference, held in Dubai in December 2023. These conferences are officially known as the “Conference of the Parties”, hence the abbreviation “COP”. COP28 was also the subject of this BBC story:

Once the gavel came down in Dubai, the warm words flowed – but will it really have an impact on climate change?

The agreement reached in this glitzy metropolis for the first time nails the role of fossil fuel emissions in driving up temperatures and outlines a future decline for coal, oil and gas.

In UN terms that is historic, and the biggest step forward on climate since the Paris agreement in 2015.

This comment came from someone calling themselves “D1703020689244”:

It’s the same recipe every time.

Argument, confected fury, conference schedule delayed for last minute negotiations, text issued at midnight, gavel comes down, handshakes and cheers.

Who are they fooling other than themselves.

They have a point. The gavel does not always come down literally at midnight, but a pattern can be observed. Who could forget that nailbiter of a finish in Glasgow for COP26 in 2021:

The deal was reached with nearly 200 countries at 7.40pm – more than 24 hours after the two-week summit was scheduled to finish.

It was rivalled in drama only by the the Paris climate change talks of 2015:

In the final meeting of the Paris talks on climate change on Saturday night, the debating chamber was full and the atmosphere tense. Ministers from 196 countries sat behind their country nameplates, aides flocking them, with observers packed into the overflowing hall.

(Spoiler: there was a deal. Not just “a” deal but the world’s greatest diplomatic success. Ever.)

That last-minute deal was rivalled in drama only by – wait, am I allowed two “rivalled onlies”? Probably not. OK, Paris was non-rivalrously rivalled in drama by the “last-minute deal” that saved COP15 in 2009:

The United Nations climate talks that seemed headed for sure disaster were saved from utter collapse late Friday night in Copenhagen, after leaders from the U.S., India, Brazil, South Africa and China came to an agreement to combat global warming.

COP13, Bali, 2007:

Late-night drama pushes US into climate deal

The conference had overrun by a day, despite several night-time sessions. As the wrangling continued, and with no palpable signs of progress, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who had already left Bali for East Timor, was forced to return to rescue the deal from disaster. In a tearful address to delegates, he pleaded: ‘The hour is late. It’s time to make a decision. You have in your hands the ability to deliver to the people of the world a successful outcome to this conference.’

COP11, Montreal 2005:

Weary negotiators finally agreed the revised statement as the talks dragged on into the small hours. They also agreed an action plan among Kyoto members to extend the protocol when its first phase expires in 2012.

COP7, Marrakech, 2001:

They negotiated the terms of a new climate change agreement through the night, and at dawn the exhausted delegates achieved success.

COP3, Kyoto, 1997:

The Kyoto Climate Change Conference has just ended in agreement. Industrialised nations have agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 5.2% under a differentiated target scheme. This has been one of the most complex international negotiations that has taken place and the governments of the world took it down to the wire.

Kyoto was another all-nighter, apparently. I tried to find some equivalent drama about COP2 (Geneva) and COP1 (Berlin), but that was before they were famous.

And now it’s after they were famous. The plots got too samey. Not even the magnificent opening speech to the COP26 delegates in Glasgow given by Boris Johnson (as documented by the late Niall Kilmartin) was enough to revive interest.

P.S. My apologies to any readers misled by the title of this post. If you want to know where you can be sure of experiencing a satisfying climax, try Azerbaijan.

18 comments to A climactic climax every time

  • Paul Marks

    “Paul – why do you support Donald John Trump when you said such nasty things about him in the primary campaign of 2016?”

    One reason is that President Trump is the only American, or major Western power, leader we can trust to say NO and stick to NO, in response to the utter insanity that Natalie’s post explains.

    There are other reasons, but opposition to “Net Zero” (which might as well be called “Year Zero”) is a big one.

    Ambassador Haley would sign anything her Corporate State backers told her to sign and “President” Biden (he of the rigged elections) would have his hand guided to make his X.

  • bobby b

    There is no catastrophic global warming occurring at present, so, obviously, the time spent at the various COP’s was well worth it! Thank you, Al Gore!

  • Phil B

    Well, if China can persuade everyone else in the world to stop using oil, close all their industries down and only buy their requirements from China (which, of course, will carry on as they are doing) hasn’t China done much to reduce “greenhouse gases” and helped Glowbull warbling?

    Same with Russia, India and others.

    Or am I being unduly cynical?

  • Zerren Yeoville

    If COP29 was to be held in Israel, I imagine many potential delegates would boycott the meeting in protest at Israel’a actions against Hamas.

    I wonder how many will boycott it because of Azerbaijan’s actions during last year against breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh? I’m guessing zero.

  • David Bishop

    Spot on, Natalie.

    Josh (cartoonist) is a dab hand at puncturing the annual COP bloviations.
    This one’s from 2015 (Paris), but it’s the same sorry story every year. One might have thought that the message would have got through to our “betters” by now, but no.


  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    David Bishop,

    Josh’s cartoon “UN Climate Talks: The Ritual” says everything my post does and more, in one image.

    I’m jealous, but since the pattern is so predictable it is not surprising that many people would notice it.

    (I’ve reposted your link to the cartoon with its title rather than just the URL, in order to encourage readers to link to it and perhaps pass it on.)

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – government and corporate sources will report temperature increase regardless of whether it is happening or not, they lie endlessly about basic matters. They lie about past temperatures (pretending the past was colder than it was) with the ease they lie about mass “mail-in-ballots” and everything else. The philosophy they have been taught teaches them that objective truth either does not exist or does not matter – that only POWER (not objective truth) matters, that is the core of “Pragmatist” philosophy and “Progressive” politics.

    And remember both “Climate” and “race” (yes RACE) are “HEALTH” voters – so such things as LOCKDOWNS and CENSORSHIP will be imposed with such excuses – as well as whatever new virus the “International Community” “enhances” and “accidentally” releases.

    The only person who is going to say no, and stick to no, to the World Health Organisation and other international bodies – is Donald J. Trump.

    The RINOs will go along with the evil that is the “International Community” and its emerging totalitarian “Rules Based International Order”.

  • Paul Marks

    “In the end Trump will give in to the World Health Organisation (or Organization if you prefer that spelling) and the rest of the evil International Community”.

    Perhaps he will – but he, and the people around him, are the only hope in the grim struggle against the “Global Citizens” as such groups as the “One Nation” (which means “no nation” or “death to the nation”) group of “Conservative” Members of Parliament call themselves.

    For if America falls – all the West will fall.

    Liars, such as the Economist magazine, still pretend that the “rules based international order” is about Free Trade – even though it is now obvious that it is now about creating totalitarian control of all aspects of life.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have to follow current affairs, but there is something about the language, the endless acronyms, the leaden prose of all the communiques, that makes me lose the will to live. My brain fog increases, one’s eyes grow heavy. I just cannot read through this garbage.

    And that’s the problem. The purveyors of this crud are counting on relatively normal (yes, people who read and write for Samizdata are “normal”, heh) people to ignore this stuff. This is how political/cultural agendas advance, or at least they do until the impact is so bad that there is pushback.

    I think there is a sign of pushback. The other day, the CEO of Toyota, no less, said that electric cars will never dominate the market. I come across impeccably left-liberal types, latte drinkers all, who tell me with a shrug that they are not interested in this stuff, that the whole Net Zero thing is out of hand, etc.

    There is, as they say in Star Wars, a disturbance in The Force. In a decade’s time, I predict that most of this will be as dead as the scare over the Millennium Bug.

  • FrankS

    I sure hope you are right, JP. But in the meantime, a decade of pastoral, climate reality care for youngsters would be very welcome. The supine profession of teachers has damaged wave after wave of children with unfounded but vivid climate scares.

  • Sam Duncan

    The same thing used to (and presumably still does) happen at European Councils. And we know they’re mostly a sham because the Commission admits it.

  • Mark

    They should rebrand it: Now that’s what I call climate 29.

    Every year, an album of reissued garbage!

    Not sure what “now” is up to (about 88 I think), but I’m sure the “climate emergency” will outlast it!

  • Clericus

    … and said ‘teachers’ are also damaging said children with unscientific gender rubbish.

  • Paul Marks

    Phil B. – you are not being too cynical.

    If the Communist Party regime in China really believed that C02 was a threat to the world they would not keep on producing more and more of it – China has vast coastal cities, if C02 is going to raise the sea levels China would drown.

    As for the Western elite – they, including Comrade Barack (currently in his third term – as he controls the “Biden Administration”), spend many millions of Dollars (by the way – how do people who have never worked in their lives get many millions of Dollars?) on beachfront homes.

    If the elite really believed that C02 was going to make the seas rise – they would not be spending many millions of Dollars on beachfront houses.

    Johnathan Peace – I hope you are correct, but policy is presently just carrying on.

    Both national and local government in the United Kingdom are spending a fortune on Net Zero – and imposing massive costs on ordinary people, and Mr Starmer and the Labour party are not going to stop this.

  • Todd Turley

    Satirically brilliant. Love it.
    The COPs demonstrate the process of ideologues wearing down opposing factions which works only if the proponents can keep the voting body in session for all-day, all-night marathons. Thus, the COPs reach their “climactic climaxes” (love the phrasing) as a result of frenetic, intense negotiations beyond the stated timeframe.
    True believers (à la Eric Hoffer) will not waver from their position, knowing that all other factions eventually will. Their position is not based on logic, ethics, common sense, or even the merits. It is solely based on advancing their cause – which is their only consideration. Because their opponents can easily make strong arguments against their position using logic, ethics, common sense, etc — the process takes time.
    No worries. Time is on their side. The proponents have no need to defend their position; they merely need to outlast all opposition.
    The process gained Obama presidency of the Harvard Law Review. He did not have the grades, and he had no written product to support his candidacy. Yet, at the end of a “grueling” 17-hour process, he emerged as the new president – “a choice on the merits, but others may read something into it,” said outgoing president Peter Yu.
    In the case of COP28, the proponents called for a vote when the island nations were out of the plenary room re-unifying their members. The decision was gavelled, and the COP adjourned in short order. The island nations came back stunned, shocked, infuriated.

  • Kirk

    I don’t know if they’ve got the same sort of BS “student government” and various accessory student organizations like “Future Business Leaders of America” in Britain like they have here in the US, but I’ve noted a very similar sort of behaviors and syndromes with those high-school organizations that you see replicated by the various ineffectual UN organizations and the WEF. Same self-important vainglorious mentality among the participants, same utter lack of real-world knowledge, and very little contact with the facts of life.

    You’ll note the paucity of people like power-plant designers, engineers, and managers; these are all idjit-class types who think that if they mandate something, then the supporting technology and infrastructure will “just happen”. Because.

    Very much the same sort of idiocy on display here in my home state, where they’ve passed legislation outlawing “fossil fuel” cars and such by 2035. While doing less than nothing to build new power plants, grid, and the attendant requirements for entirely new vehicles to be brought to market.

    My take on all this? We badly need to fire all these notional types that think these things “just happen”, and put in people who know how things work, and who can come up with practical plans to actually get things done. Left to their own, the “student government” types we’ve elevated to positions of power are going to put all of us right back into the caves.

    The most notable personality trait I’ve observed in these freakish dolts is that they all think two things: One, that they “know better” than anyone else, even the actual working experts in a field, and that two, they ought to be in charge. Why? Because they “know better”.

    It’s too bad we don’t have a test for arrogance and self-importance that we could administer like an IQ test, and then ban anyone with a higher-than-median score from participation in decision-making.

  • Stonyground

    Many here will already be aware but if not, Paul Homewood is absolutely tireless in his work to debunk the climate bollox.


  • John Mumaw

    The more unanimous the decision, the less significant the proposition.

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