After 23 years with BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW), and 38 years in journalism when political stories have often been covered, here our Editor Phil Parry looks at how politicians LOVE international conferences, because they receive enormous publicity (like this week’s COP26 on climate change) and pair them with global leaders, even though little may actually be achieved.
Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC CW TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the pandemic played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.
Politicians adore being at international conferences, because they put them on a world stage with global leaders.
A case in point is the present United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which critics fear may not actually achieve very much.
This will be an enormous shame, because we will all be affected by what is happening, and younger people, in particular, are very worried.
For millions of years carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere were virtually unchanged, then they started to rise dramatically in the middle of the 18th century, and went up massively after the second world war.
The levels are now 50 per cent higher than before the industrial revolution, having risen to record heights despite last year’s lockdown-induced dip.
The average level of CO2 in the atmosphere in March was 417.14 parts per million (ppm), up from 278 ppm when widespread industrial activity began.
Cause and effect is obviously impossible to prove, however figures like these are a huge source of concern, and those who deny them are usually crackpots because analysing the statistics is mainstream science now.
But a conference to do something about them, also coincides nicely for Boris Johnson with the fact that COP26 is great publicity for him, so he (along with his advisers) has been looking forward to it for MONTHS!
Yet the conference could turn out to be a bit of a damp squid, despite the inevitable ‘triumphs’ we will be offered, such as a ‘game-changing’ methane pledge, ‘halting’ deforestation, or ‘radical’ plans to fine listed companies in the UK if they don’t produce a strategy to reduce their carbon emissions.
Apart from the Queen not opening it, the leader of China, Xi Jinping, isn’t there – and his country is one of the worst emitters of CO2 in the world!
In fact China, the United States of America, and India are the three biggest emitters of global greenhouse gases.
Mr Jinping had earlier confirmed that he would speak only via video link (as though that replaces him ACTUALLY BEING THERE!).
He’s not the only one either.
Pope Francis isn’t there. He said he had hoped to go, but recently underwent colon surgery so can’t.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier said that he may not attend “due to the pandemic situation”, but that sounds like a pretty lame excuse to me, as the pandemic affects everyone.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, as well as President Narendra Modi of India are going only reluctantly, and were extremely slow to confirm their attendance, after missing the last summit.
In fact at the previous COP meeting in 2019, the heads of the world’s top five emitters – China, India, Japan, US and Russia – ALL failed to attend!
President Xi’s attendance this time had long been in doubt, as it was thought he had not left China since early 2020.
In September, Chinese officials told Italian diplomats that President Xi did not plan to attend a meeting of G20 leaders in Rome on October 30, which immediately preceded the COP26 summit.
Western diplomats said there were apparently concerns among Chinese officials at being able to protect Mr Xi from Covid-19 outside China.
This was at the time (and is now) TOTAL HUMBUG!
The fact the Queen didn’t go was also not surprising, although rather more excusable given her age and infirmity.
In announcing her non-attendance, a Palace spokesman said: “Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle. Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26″.
There may not just be Royal regrets either if world leaders are ‘unable’ to attend COP26 and nothing much comes out of it.
We all suffer then…
The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (when major political stories were always covered) as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in the book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.