‘ROLL up! Roll up! The circus is in town, folks! Come see the clowns – the highest paid fools on Earth! Watch the magicians convince you black is white and up is down! Dare to venture into the hall of mirrors where everything that should be right is wrong!’

Like all good circuses, COP26 depends on the old ‘appearance and reality’ trope. What seems to be happening isn’t really happening. ‘Look at this hand where I hold a climate pledge – but don’t look over there, where I’m jacking up carbon emissions.’ The entire event is an exercise in staged distraction and constructed double-think.

And of course, like every good circus, the audience is in on the act – success depends on us accepting it’s all a stunt but not letting on. So we close our ears to the pleas of Pacific Islanders begging for life-belts before they drown – because look! Here comes Leonardo DiCaprio and he’s in Maryhill! We know the entire summit is meaningless without the participation of China and Russia, but didn’t you hear? Greta Thunberg said ‘arse’!

If there’s a theme to COP26, it’s this sense of phoney ‘doubling’. Even in the run-up to the event, most sane folk viewed the summit with a double sense of hopefully excitement mixed with despairing distaste.

World governments – including Britain and Scotland – actively work against the environment while their leaders pose as climate saviours. Boris Johnson’s budget was blatantly anti-environment – he’s a man who’s amplified climate denial, for pity sake – yet he’s the new champion of the planet. Scotland will keep drilling for oil and gas, the SNP’s net zero secretary Michael Matheson says, with a straight face, even if the nation goes independent. So stick that in your environmental portfolio, Yes movement.

World leaders poured carbon over the planet on their jet plane journeys to save the Earth in Glasgow. Joe Biden’s motorcade was one huge ‘screw you’ to the environment. Leaders even had their private jets shuttling between Glasgow and Prestwick Airports. At the G20 meeting in Rome last week, our political gods did nothing – zilch – to tackle the problem of coal. They’re liars and con artists.

And yet here we are – listening to them all, like the nodding dogs we are, and convincing ourselves that they mean what they say.

The conversations these leaders are having don’t even touch on reforming the way the global economy is set up. Yet it’s how we run the economy that’s caused so much of our environmental problems. It’s just another smoke and mirrors show – because why would the powerful reform something that works for them but not for us?

In the months leading up to COP26, Barclays financed more in fossil fuel projects – to the tune of £4.1bn – than any of the UK’s largest banks. Shell sets itself carbon emission goals to become net zero by 2050 – while simultaneously growing its gas business.

If you believe a word these people say then you’re part of the crowd scene in The Emperor’s New Clothes fairytale. You’re cheering the resplendent britches of a charlatan you know in your heart is stark naked.

The people who really matter – not the trustifarians staging sub-Edinburgh festival street performance protests, who’ll be running hedge funds a decade from now, but the representatives of communities across the world facing destruction because of climate change – can’t even get inside COP26 to have their voices heard.

Inside, Scotland and the UK are represented by a battalion of high-earning apparatchiks – not the people who’ll feel the economic pain of what it means to tackle climate change. Where are the voices of the ordinary citizens of Scotland and Glasgow? This conversation is being held by Scotland’s well-connected middle class and its chattering classes – not the ordinary folk of this nation.

The great and the good are doing one thing, while telling us to do another: don’t fly, plebs, but move aside while I get this private jet to London.

This hypocrisy and double-dealing mounts now on an almost minute by minute basis. When the circus is so close you really get to see the pimples and rot under the pan-stick make up. While these leaders game us, the majority of climate scientists advising COP26 – nearly two-thirds on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – are warning that the world is now on course to warm by three degrees. Only 4% think the world will meet the 1.5 degree target.

Meanwhile, Johnson goofs, and Nicola Sturgeon – who can’t even set up a public energy company or find her tongue half the time on new oil fields in Scottish waters – uses the conference to promote independence for Scotland, and Patrick Harvie tags along behind her. Being independent won’t take us very far if the country’s underwater. And the Queen tells us to all think of our children. It’s time for action, she says, not words. Well put your hand in your very deep pocket then, ma’am, and do something yourself.

Lead for pity sake – someone show real leadership.

And what’s happening now? After a Marie Antoinette-style shindig at Kelvingrove ‘Palace' (I mean why not act like the first class passengers on the Titanic when the ship is sinking) all the big bods are leaving. Biden’s away – off to lose an election to Donald Trump most likely in a few years, so that America can once again renege on any weak promises that emerge from Glasgow and render the entire process utterly futile.

We all know what’s caused the disaster we’re facing: the way power and money has behaved over the last hundred and more years. The rich and their political fixers trashed the planet, dragging the world along behind them. Now they pose as our saviours, without any prospect of addressing the real problem: them.

The climate crisis is a sin perpetuated by the few on the many. The only lesson to be drawn from COP26 is that the world of the few – the world as represented within the walls of the summit – has to be destroyed in order for the many to prosper. Run the clowns out of town and close their circus down.

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