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VIPs leave their mark on Glasgow climate conference

Mark Knight, November 11, 2021 6:00PM Kids News

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson farewells the VIP guests who flew into the Glasgow climate conference on carbon-emitting private jets in Mark Knight’s ironic cartoon. media_cameraBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson farewells the VIP guests who flew into the Glasgow climate conference on carbon-emitting private jets in Mark Knight’s ironic cartoon.


Reading level: green

The next big challenge the world faces after the pandemic is climate change.

World leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, over the past week to try to come to an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions*.

At the COP26 climate conference, the target is zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in a bid to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C.

Glasgow is not only a forum* to discuss how to decrease greenhouse gases but also an opportunity to encourage greater use of renewable energy* sources like solar and wind.

US President Joe Biden was there along with our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, or ScoMo as we refer to him, and hundreds of other political leaders with their advisers and negotiators.

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos, of Amazon and Blue Origin spacecraft fame, and Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio were also there. And of course no climate conference would be complete without young Greta Thunberg there to smash political leaders as only she can do!

UK Royals Attend COP26 - Day 4 media_cameraMovie star Leonardo DiCaprio (left) chats with Prince Charles (centre) and fashion designer Stella McCartney (right) at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum during the COP26 summit on November 3. Picture: Getty Images

Many of them (but certainly not Greta who arrived by train) jetted into Scotland on their VIP* aircraft. Glasgow airport must have looked like a shopping centre carpark at Christmas time!

I wondered if guests flying in on carbon-emitting* jets was a good look for a climate conference trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2, is the main harmful greenhouse gas we humans produce and the aviation industry and its planes are responsible for a decent chunk of the carbon that pollutes our atmosphere, warming our planet.

COP26 Summit - Day Three media_cameraJeff Bezos speaks during an Action on Forests and Land Use event at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture: Getty Images

I also thought it ironic* that guest star Mr Bezos was, only a couple of weeks ago, heralding* the beginning of space tourism with the launch of his Blue Origin rocket. He predicted space travel would become a regular thing in the future, like flying to Cairns for your winter break.

Watching those rockets take off, it appeared to me that they were burning a lot of something, and that something was ending up in our atmosphere!

media_cameraJeff Bezos and crew are blasted to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket in July. Picture: Blue Origin

But as we know there is one rule for some and another rule for others, and I wanted to explore that in a cartoon. It is an interesting talking point!

So when the VIPs were leaving I thought I would draw the host of the meeting, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, bidding them farewell.

In a cheeky move (pardon the pun*) I have dressed him in the traditional Scottish kilt and, well, you know the breeze these planes make as they take off and the stories about what is worn under kilts (not much)! That is me trying to create a bit of visual slapstick humour*.

As Boris waves goodbye on the tarmac and congratulates the attendees for their work in reducing emissions, the jet plumes of burnt aviation fuel cloud the sky. The cartoon is ironic. In attempting to solve a problem, we may have made it worse!

media_cameraSome of the private jets COP26 attendees used to get to the climate summit were parked at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland. Picture: AFP


  • greenhouse gas emissions: the release of gases that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere
  • forum: a place where ideas and views are exchanged
  • renewable energy: energy produced from natural resources that do not run out
  • VIP: stands for “very important person”
  • emitting: producing, discharging, releasing
  • ironic: strange or funny because it is different to what is expected or meant to happen
  • heralding: announcing with enthusiasm
  • pun: the amusing use of a word that has more than one meaning
  • slapstick humour: a type of comedy that uses practical jokes, clumsy actions and embarrassing events


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Turn climate fears into positive actions


  1. Which city in Scotland has been hosting the COP26 climate conference?
  2. Which billionaire does Mark Knight mention in the story?
  3. Why did Mark think it was ironic that this billionaire was a guest star at COP26?
  4. What is carbon dioxide also known as?
  5. What type of humour did Mark create when he drew British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a kilt that was being blown up at the back?


1. Write a Speech Bubble
Mark Knight has created a speech bubble showing us what Boris Johnson is saying in the cartoon. Think about the people you can see in the planes. What do you think they would say to Boris? Write speech bubbles showing this.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Create your own cartoon about the COP26 climate conference. Your cartoon should show your opinion of the topics and ideas that Mark is describing in his story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Communication Design, Visual Arts, Civics and Citizenship

Describe It
Look at the cartoon and make a list of five nouns that you see. Then describe those five nouns with five adjectives.

Add a preposition to those five nouns and adjectives.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in environment