This morning was my first effective day at the Cancun Climate Conference. The formal programme started in the afternoon, but for the morning they had arranged an educational visit for us to the local Botanical Gardens, where a small piece of rain forest (suitably sanitised) has been preserved.
I still remember the old lefty protest song “Pave Paradise, put up a Parking Lot … Took all the trees, put them in a tree museum. And charged all the people, a dollar and a half just to see ‘em”. This was the Mexican tree museum.
We were there to study pilot programmes for the UN’s REDD project. No, I didn´t know what it meant either, but apparently it’s “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation”. So there.
They seem to be doing some excellent work — involving local communities (Mayan, in this case) in valuing the forest, and in sustainable management. Nevertheless I dread to think what will happen in corrupt countries where the illegal loggers are in control of the hinterland.
Then off to the Cancun Messe (unfortunate associations there!) for accreditation. The accreditation hall was about the size of an aicraft hangar, with a couple of dozen desks, after you’d negotiated the maze of airport-style tensor-tapes to herd the crowds.
Except there weren’t any crowds. There were about six people when I was there. I have a photograph of the vast empty space (unfortunately I can’t download it till I get home). It tells its own story of the Cancun Climate Conference.
Next was an open area with a cheerful bandstand, with seats for an audience of two hundred or so. But the audience was smaller than the band, who played vigorously to hide their chagrin.
Inside were stands of a zillion (mostly unheard of) NGOs and small states, with no one paying much attention, and the staff looking bored, as well they might. There were numerous food stalls, doing little trade.
It was all too reminiscent of the Marie Celeste, and I wondered whether they would decide to cancel the conference for lack of interest.
Then we were briefed — extensively. As I predicted, they expect a glorious success on REDD. But no sniff yet of their Holy Grail — the legally binding emissions agreement. Mind you, we didn’t observe the last legally binding agreement (Kyoto), and even if they got one, it probably wouldn’t stick. But they keep encouraging themselves and whistling in the wind with talk of “preparatory work for success in 2011 in South Africa”. We’ll see.
A little bird tells me that the Guardian (it’s a newspaper, apparently) proposes to run a piece on my current climate campaign. But as you would expect, they plan to play the man rather than the ball. Unconcerned at the Pounds (no Pound sign in Mexico!) 700 billion plus we plan to spend in the UK on climate mitigation, they intend instead to attack the few thousand that I’m spending on warning people about it.
I shall see what they say and deliver a considered response. But there is a great irony here. One of the comments I hear most frequently from constituents on the doorstep is “You politicians never tell us enough about the EU” (although admittedly when I ask “OK, have you got half an hour?” they speedily remember some other priority — often Coronation Street).
But when I go out of my way to warn constituents about the huge costs of renewable energy imposed on them by Brussels diktat, I get vilified by the left-wing press. I must be doing something right.