Monday 4 December 2023

Avoiding criticism


According to Rishi Sunak, the UK is a world leader when it comes to action to respond to climate change, despite his decisions to delay some actions and plough ahead with further oil and gas exploration. To put it in context, however, he regularly claims that the UK is a world leader on most things. Lack of any supporting evidence is, apparently, no hindrance to making outrageously inaccurate claims and expecting that everyone else will just accept those claims as true. In the case of climate change, he does, on this occasion, produce some 'evidence' for his assertion: none of the other world leaders at COP28 have raised any issues with him, proving, in his mind at least, that they’re all very happy with what he’s doing. It probably helped him to avoid their criticism that he made only the briefest of flying visits, spending more time flying there and back (in a private jet, of course, so as to demonstrate his credentials on the subject) than he did on the ground.

Those who did stay a little longer certainly picked up plenty of criticism from other delegations. The Observer says that “Representatives of several countries also told the Observer they were disappointed at the UK’s stance”, and Labour sources say that they “… found other international delegations bemoaning the UK government’s approach.” But Sunak didn’t stay long enough to hear it for himself, even if he knew how to switch his ears to receive mode, and it therefore doesn’t count. US climate envoy Al Gore was pretty blunt, but he probably doesn’t count as a world leader in Sunak’s view – not least because he isn’t British and only the British government can be a world leader. Besides, Gore’s accusation that the UK government is “in the pocket of fossil fuel companies” probably sounds like a compliment to Sunak. After all, isn’t facilitating the making of private profit by large corporations exactly what Conservatives are for?

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