Meeting Expectations

The usual suspects

In a best-forgotten epoch of life, I escorted a blond uptown for a high-end version of a down-market dish, fish n’ chips. I had expected to pay but not to spend the rent. One dead sea-creature and chips stiffed me for seventy smackers. I don’t remember what she ordered, only that it stiffed me for significantly more, of course.

Up there among the bright and beautiful, spirits were soaring. This was the late nineties, and all about us the benefactors of Internet IPOs were celebrating with the abandon of those who believe they deserve it.

Unfortunately, at our little airstrip the plane couldn’t get off the ground. Time and again the blond would angle her head and frown at my witticisms as if they did about as much for her as cancer.

Then, suddenly, she burst into life. Had I somehow unknowingly done something right?

No. I hadn’t.

Who had was a table of chisel-jawed financial types with the glint of cocaine in their eyes. Clearly, the blond and the money-boys were buds, and she took off to reconnect. Laughter and joy erupted. By the time she returned, her chips had hardened.

I signed the mortgage and we left. At my offer of a ride she claimed to need exercise. At my promise to call, her head exercised a refusal so brutal it sent me spiraling backward into the gutter. My shoes filled with stormwater, and the blond skipped off in the direction from which we’d come.

Later, with my socks drying on the radiator, I poured my heart out to my best mate, a big-bearded sage known as ’Zin (short for Ama-zin’). As he sucked back another bong, I confessed disappointment that the woman I’d thought of as my soul-mate, my wings on the flight to fame, fortune and … other things beginning with f … had wielded the ejector seat.

And that’s when he uttered the most profound question ever asked of me, anyone has. “AJ,” he said. “What the *#@! did you expect?”

And so, just as fantasy met reality over one hundred and sixty dollars worth of deep fried fat, we encounter the theme of this article. Be wary of expectations.

This December, heads of government meet in Paris to discuss action to tackle climate change. Two previous attempts, Kyoto and Copenhagen, achieved bugger-all.

News in the run-up has been positive. The EU’s climate-change big-wig, Miguel Arias Cañete, is astonished at the positive progress. “There are many, many reasons to be cheerful,” he says. One hundred and forty-nine reasons, apparently. That’s how many countries have bought tickets to ride the “finally-do-something” balloon.

Even the captains of carbon are jumping aboard. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative represents ten of the world’s biggest oil companies. “Our shared ambition is for a 2C future,” the CEOs say. “Over the coming years we will collectively strengthen our actions and investments to contribute to reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of the global energy mix.”

Patrick Pouyanne, of Total, says, “Sometimes in all these discussions you have the impression that all fossil fuels are the bad guys.”

Sometimes, eh?

In the year since the EPA proposed new regulations on emissions from power plants, the fossil fuel lobby in the US alone spent 502 million bucks fighting action on climate change. What impression should we have from that?

Leopards. Spots. Change. Don’t.

The captains of carbon are serving up smiles while hijacking the plane. Paris looks like being a success, but if these people are involved we would be wise not to get our hopes up.

Duplicitous. Behavior. Expectations. Meeting.

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