GOLDSTEIN: COP26 should be last UN gabfest on climate change

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It’s time to put the United Nations’ annual global gabfest on climate change out of its misery and ours.

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The latest one in Glasgow — formally known as COP26 because it’s the 26th meeting of the UN’s Conference of the Parties on climate change since the first, COP 1, was held in Berlin in 1995 — went into overtime.

This is typical of these conferences as official delegates from around the world hammer out a joint statement, debating over where commas should be placed, in drafting a non-binding document that will be hyped as either a magnificent success or an inglorious failure, depending on which media you believe.

The Canadian public has lost faith in these annual farces, where hundreds of global elites fly into wherever the conference is being held on private jets — one of the worst things you can do for the planet when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions — and tens of thousands of delegates, protesters and security forces create a giant carbon footprint over two weeks of rhetoric and demonstrations.

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Especially appalling, arrogant and hypocritical this year was the UN’s decision to hold the conference live instead of by video conferencing, in the middle of a pandemic where ordinary citizens all over the world are being urged not to engage in unnecessary travel.

A poll by Angus Reid Institute last week found 84% of Canadians surveyed did not believe that “major global emitters will make meaningful progress on controlling/reducing their emissions during the COP26 conference” compared to only 9% who did, with 7% undecided.

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That’s hardly surprising given that, much like the boy who cried “wolf,” UN COP conferences have shredded their credibility over more than a quarter century of dire predictions of imminent climate apocalypse that have failed to come true.

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Prior to COP26, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “the climate crisis is a code red for humanity,” but UN hysteria about imminent environmental collapse long predates even its COP conferences.

In 1972, Canadian Maurice Strong, the first director of the UN’s environmental program, warned of looming environmental disaster at the UN’s Stockholm Conference, although at the time he was talking about fresh water supplies, ocean pollution and urban settlement.

In the real world, the UN with a huge assist from the global media, has contributed mightily to “climate porn.”

That phrase was coined in 2006 by the United Kingdom’s Institute for Public Policy and Research, a progressive think tank, to describe the alarmist rhetoric that permeates public discussion of climate change, following an extensive review of government and environmental websites and media coverage.

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In their paper — Warm Words: How are we telling the climate change story and can we tell it better? — authors Gill Ereaut and Nat Segnit concluded:

“Climate change is most commonly constructed through the alarmist repertoire — as awesome, terrible, immense and beyond human control … It is typified by an inflated or extreme lexicon, incorporating an urgent tone and cinematic codes.

“It employs a quasi-religious register of death and doom, and it uses language of acceleration and irreversibility.

“The difficulty with it is that the scale of the problem as it is shown excludes the possibility of real action … by the reader or viewer. It contains an implicit counsel of despair — ‘the problem is just too big for us to take on’…”

Clearly, the UN’s climate of despair has become counterproductive to effective policy. It’s time to end it.

lgoldstein@postmedia.com

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