Mind the gap between rhetoric and action at Cop26…

Is there something unpalatable about all the private jets and all the polished limos gathering in Glasgow at Cop26 so that world leaders can tell us what an ecological mess we are all in?

Is there something unpalatable about Boris Johnson giving a speech both frivolous and silly – complete with James Bond jokes and quips about what he’ll be like when he’s 94 ­– and yet almost suitably sombre in parts, only for him to hop back on a private jet the next morning for the return flight to London, trailing fumes?

Is there something unpalatable about a photograph widely shared on social media showing the prime minister slumped with his eyes shut during a speech, and not wearing a mask while those around him are suitably covered?

Yes, all round, and especially to that photograph in which Johnson is sitting next to Sir David Attenborough, who is 95, a year older than the self-referential projection the prime minister slipped into his speech, and clearly vulnerable.

To have put a mask on while he sat there would not have been a sacrifice.

If a Labour prime minister had done such a thing, that picture would be displayed all over the media to a chorus of hostile derision.

With Boris Johnson, not so much.

Such behaviour seems to be factored in, and anyway he always gets away with everything; it’s his crumpled birth right.

Are we to believe the greening of the previous climate sceptic whose columns so often berated those who worried about climate change? Back then he used the same cheap oratorical tricks against ecological campaigners that he now uses to convince us of his own green credentials.

People can change their minds, of course, and perhaps he’s changed his, although it’s always wise to wonder. How much of this is a genuine desire to protect the world, and to be judged, as he said in that speech, by the “children not yet born and their children”, and how much of it is political expediency?

Flying all over the place in private jets is not a good look when you are lecturing others on why we must all save the climate. Lowering the tax on domestic flights is hardly a good green look; wanting to licence more oilfields in the North Sea is hardly a good green look; wanting to build more roads is hardly a good green look.

And an unwillingness to speak straight about coal, as exposed in an unusually tough interview with the BBC’s chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, is hardly a good green look.

As to the wider conference, once all those private jets and polished limousines have gone away, we shall see.

The pledge to halt and reverse deforestation by the end of the decade is an encouraging start, but we need to talk to the indigenous people who live and work in the forests of the depleted Amazon rainforest, and elsewhere, not just lecture them from afar.

It’s encouraging that the world is talking about the climate (even if Russia and China have handed in a sicknote), but there is still something queasy making about the ecological damage caused by getting everyone to gather in the temporary green chapel of Glasgow.

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