Last week we previewed some of the lines of attack we expect to see from deniers as COP26 kicks off, and today we’re updating and adding a few more to watch out for (beyond any Republicans that come bearing supposed good-faith while talking about the Taliban’s lithium.)
Electric vehicles are of course a consummate target for deniers, as they offer a chance to use their “hypocritical elites” framing, and the issue we flagged with COP26 charging luxury EVs with (bio)diesel generators has already been fact-checked, as was Bjorn Lomborg’s recent (false) claim about electric vehicles being a “net negative,” which (surprise!) they’re not. Lomborg’s regular columns in the WSJ (which the editorial board summarized, sans fact checks) argued that climate impacts aren’t so costly (they are!) and instead we can just adapt our way out of danger (we can’t!) so long as economic growth isn’t hampered (even though climate change will hamper economic growth)!
"Net Zero" is turning out to be another contentious issue, which makes sense because it can be used as greenwashing by industry promising to pay for offsets for their continued emissions tomorrow while continuing to pollute today, but of course that’s what legitimately climate-concerned critics will say, while deniers are decidedly stupider.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s main climate denial organization, has rebranded as Net Zero Watch to oppose climate policies instead of just denying climate science. See DeSmog for more on the rebrand and ClimateFeedback for a fact check demonstrating GWPF’s lack of credibility. Then there’s also another UK pop-up PR front group attacking NetZero, CAR26 that Sean Buchan of Stop Funding Heat told Desmog was just another one of the “fringe groups [that] will inevitably try to derail the proceedings.”
Speaking of fringe groups, the disgraced and repeatedly debunked Heartland Institute is convening a 3-day sideshow in Glasgow, The Scotsman reported, and CFACT is sending fundraising emails about how it’s going to Glasgow as well. Alex Epstein, who creates and spreads pro-fossil fuel talking points for the industry, has indicated he intends to “crash” the COP. In 2018, The Weather Channel did an extensive feature on how Epstein offered “a course in climate misinformation”, and no doubt he and the rest of the professional deniers will try to trick reporters into taking their antics seriously.
It’s not just the fringe though. As the GOP’s shameful display at the disinformation hearing showed, they’ll stoop as low as it takes to defend their fossil fuel funders by claiming that fossil fuel failures are actually due to renewables. But fuel shortages and gas price hikes show how costly our current reliance on fossil fuels can be, and it’s oil companies, not environmentalists or politicians, who control the price of fuel, and blaming today’s high energy prices on the possibility of future climate action is a transparent attempt to defend fossil fuels by deflecting blame on to the technology that is poised to replace them.
So while we can’t know the exact attacks the fossil fuel industry’s goons will try to make stick to disrupt COP26, we can be pretty sure they’ll be grossly dishonest. Hopefully reporters will be too clever to fall for their trolling.