Rules for Rulers: Elites Jet to Climate Summit
Three for One, not in this game…
Another day, another case study in “rules for thee and not for me” hypocrisy from our esteemed leaders. As King Charles, PM Sunak and Lord Cameron each jet off in their own private ride to climate talks, we peasants get fined for going 20mph over limits. Maybe I’d accept a lift to Dubai too if asked nicely?
But of course, such luck is reserved only for the highest of the high-and-mighty. Us average earthlings barely deserve the oxygen we breathe, let alone a comfy plane seat to globe-trotting summits. We should count ourselves grateful for the chance to watch our betters shape policy on the telly.
However, you’d think attending the world’s most important climate conference would at least warrant pretending to care somewhat about…oh, I don’t know….the climate? But I guess when you already spend weekends in multiple castles, what’s a bit extra carbon between friends?
Sure, it’s understandable, we can’t have VIPs braving nightmarish first class sections on commercial flights alongside the riff-raff, can we! Best send three jets just to be safe. And make sure no peasant eyes witness the grand arrival! Thank goodness Underlings flying economy can offset those elite emissions. Rishi can always manage to balance the books while Cameron’s cooking his…
Downing Street defends the separate flights, noting lower ministers will fly commercial. But sceptics highlight the mixed messaging and optics of numerous VIP jets conveying leaders to an event shaping carbon reduction policy. Does an exception for the elite undermine the cause?
Some argue security risks and unique scheduling logistics necessitate such arrangements for officials of this rank. However, in an era of necessary lifestyle sacrifices to meet climate targets, globally broadcast examples matter.
Symbols carry weight – should seeking progress in Dubai preclude demonstrating it en route? Optics prompt many to allege hypocrisy over “do as I say” leadership.
The big question remains…Will the urgent COP28 talks yield progress on bringing ouch temperatures below boiling point? Or will leaders just enjoy the Gulf breeze before returning home to scold us for idling cars outside schools? I suppose only time will tell! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pedal my bicycle 50 miles to work or the eco-police will taser me for exhaling.
So the UK’s COP28 identity crisis personifies in this trio – the concerned King urging action beyond his limited power, the sceptical PM putting economic growth first, and the shape-shifting Tory spinmeister who tells every audience what it wants to hear, Greensill or Green passion a disposable accessory.
Paul Knaggs, @LabourHeartlands