I wanted to start this week by thanking Boris Johnson for travelling to Hampshire at the weekend and supporting local tourism in the area. Whether a meeting of businesspeople at the CBI in the North East is the best place to extol the virtues of Peppa Pig World down in the New Forest, I’m not completely sure, but all publicity is good publicity, I guess. And at least it was a more positive pig story than the one last month about the current culling of healthy animals, due to the shortage of abattoir workers.

Instead, I want to turn my attention to COP26, the recently finished international conference in Glasgow over climate change and protecting the environment in the years ahead. Reading a subsequent article by John Glen, Salisbury MP and treasury minister, it sounded like the British presidency of the conference was a huge success, resulting in only ‘good things’ and ‘a positive turning point’ in the battle against climate change. That tub-thumping analysis didn’t quite seem to square with the dominant image of the conference, which was of Alok Sharma, who led the talks, tearfully apologising to delegates for the final, weaker communique.

In reality, the results of COP were somewhat more of a mixed bag. Going into the talks, the agreed headline figure to avoid irreversible damage in terms of temperature increases was 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Secondly, a key aim was to tackle the use of fossil fuels and coal in particular. Thirdly, there was the agreeing of a yearly $100 billion fund for developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change. In each of these instances, COP fell short. While achieving a 1.5°C increase is ‘still alive’, the pledges and targets actually agreed tot up to an increase of over 2°C. The watering down of the coal pledge from the phasing out to the phasing down of coal use was also a let-down: out of the top 20 power generating countries, only five committed to phasing out coal by the 2040s: the world’s largest coal users – China, India, the US, Japan, South Africa, Australia – did not sign this pledge. And the failure to deliver on the $100 billion funding commitment, first agreed over a decade ago, was also disappointing. There were plenty of important achievements too – on methane, deforestation, and the agreement of 450 financial institutions, holding 40% of global financial assets, to commit to net zero. That’s not quite the same as those companies investing in climate initiatives, but remains perhaps one of the most significant results going forwards. So while I would dispute his overall assessment of the conference, I would applaud ministers like John Glen for their endeavours here.