This may be the largest gathering ever of world leaders in recent years. Tens to thousands of angry activists are pushing for a deal.
Yesterday’s show was dominated by two non-elected nonagenarians.
The Queen nailed it better than any of the presidents, prime ministers, and campaigners. This was followed by a similar bravura performance by Sir David Attenborough.
The Queen summoned the wisdom that comes with being the longest-serving head state on the planet and summarized the immense task before her in just a few words.
She said, “For more than 70years, I have been fortunate to meet and to know many world’s greatest leaders.”
“And perhaps I have come to understand some of what made them so special. Sometimes it is observed that leaders today do not provide leadership for their people. But what they do for the people of tomorrow – that is statesmanship.’
The Cop26 climate change summit was in Glasgow, where delegates had the chance to be ‘written into history books yet not printed’, the Queen stated in a video address
She told them that this was their chance to be ‘written into history books yet to been printed’. These are big words from someone who has written in to many. The Monarch is a master of her language.
Although she had originally intended to give the speech in person, her doctors decided that it would be best delivered via video. It still had a lot of punch. The setting was poignant and only added to the power and power of her words.
She was at Windsor Castle’s White Drawing Room. This is the same room where she gave her historic address to the Covid-ravaged nation last January. She was accompanied by a favorite photo of the Duke Of Edinburgh, who was surrounded with butterflies during a 1988 Mexico visit.
For years, she reminded us, she had watched him nurture a bright idea that turned in to a charity – the World Wildlife Fund – that, in turn, paved the way for so many of today’s environmental organisations.
They had both seen their eldest child and their eldest boy embrace the same cause.
She stated, “I could not be prouder of them,” What was that on her lapel, you ask? Her much-loved butterfly brooch. Gulp. The Prince of Wales was one of the stars at the grand summit opening ceremony.
Her doctors ordered that her address be delivered via video from Windsor Castle’s White Drawing Room. She also had a favorite photo of the Duke from 1998 by her side.
After what he described as a “terrifying” film in which people were rescued from floods, bushfires, and other climate-induced horrors, he appeared in the large plenary conference hall.
As he encouraged the assembled to adopt a warlike attitude, he stated that “any leader who has had the experience of facing such life-threatening challenges know that the cost to prevent them is far greater than the price of action.”
The Prince has transformed from a well-intentioned pioneer into a revered elder statesman in climate change. He will be present at the summit for the entire week, long after most world leaders have returned to their countries.
As the Prince spoke yesterday, we could see the US President.
Joe Biden sometimes showed signs of jetlag during the day by letting his eyes drop and later telling us how happy it was to be at “Glass Cow”
He was gracious enough to arrive on time for the opening ceremony and he sat through the entire thing. This was more than could possibly be said for others.
Here, the alphabetical order of national delegates is used. Bizarrely, there were three empty seats beside him.
Vanuatu and Uzbekistan were not there, so they missed an opportunity to chat with the most powerful man alive. As we waited for ceremonies to begin, other leaders arrived.
Emmanuel Macron must have wished he hadn’t waited until the last minute to get in fashionably late. He made a run for Mr Biden and was just about to start his shoulder-slapping routine before the lights went out. He was then told to get in his seat.
Although it was designed by a Conservative government, the ceremony felt more like a Tony Blair production. It was full of youth and diversity.
A young woman from South Pacific took to stage, as did a woman of the Amazon basin and another from Kenya. Yrsa Dley-Ward, a poet from Jamaica/Nigerian heritage, was also on the stage. She was born in Chorley, Lancashire.
Boris Johnson, who was standing in front of this ensemble, looked pale, male, and stale while he gave his speech. It was primarily an earnest call for arms but it was sprinkled with ruminations. Bumblings and the odd joke.
She reminded us she had watched Prince Philip nurture an idea that turned in to a charity – the World Wildlife Fund – that paved the way for so many of today’s environmental organisations
The goal was to combine the tragic with a glimmer hope. The serious stuff worked just fine. It must be said that the humour went over the heads of the delegates faster than the Atlantic breeze whistling up Clyde.
Mr Johnson welcomed everyone to Scotland ‘whose most globally famous fictional son is almost certainly a man called James Bond who generally comes to the climax of his highly lucrative films strapped to a doomsday device desperately trying to work out which coloured wire to pull to turn it off while a red digital clock ticks down remorselessly to a detonation that will end human life as we know it…’ Hmmm.
It’s a good analogy, but I didn’t see a single smile in my section of the auditorium.
The PM then pressed the button marked ‘no but seriously, people’ and continued: ‘It is one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock, so we need to act immediately.
Sir David Attenborough, however, really brought the point home. He performed a phenomenal performance with the energy and vitality of a man half his 95-years old.
He said that our generation was the first to witness the settled pattern of seasons give way in the face of atmospheric mayhem.
He admitted that we are in a desperate state, but ended on a positive note, saying, “In my lifetime I have witnessed a terrible fall.” You could and should see a remarkable recovery in your lifetime.
Joe Biden led the standing ovation. Following the ceremony, world leaders rushed to give Sir David a big pat on the back.
Poor chap was just reaching the door when he was seized by Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish First Minister) for a selfie. Sir David was just too handsome to refuse. Sure enough, the First Minister posted her snap a few moments later.
This was a day that taught us what it takes to be statemanlike.