THE UK and the EU have a surprising level of self-delusion over green issues. They believe that sacrifices by their economies and citizens will be seen as a good example the rest of the world will follow. That can be the only justification for embracing such radical carbon reduction policies. Serious as the threat from climate change is, nothing the EU or UK does in isolation will have any impact on the problem.

The COP26 conference in Glasgow will bring fine words and political grandstanding, particularly by Boris Johnson, who has embraced green concepts with the enthusiasm of a religious convert. However when it comes to judging that event it should not be based on how good it makes those who talk loudest about green issues feel. There is only one measure of success. That is whether China, Russia and all the others that are at the root of the problem make economic sacrifices on the scale being demanded of the UK and EU. If that does not happen, COP26 will be little more than hot air, and probably the source of another spike in Scottish Covid infections as we head into winter.

That there is a climate emergency is beyond question, but the issue of how to tackle it is being avoided. The UK and EU are showing ambition, even if some of the plans are poorly assessed, not least the checks and balances around the rush into electric vehicles. The issue of the power to charge them is one issue, but arguably a bigger issue is the environmental impact of the batteries and how to produce and dispose of the heavy metals and other chemicals they contain. Equally, in agriculture, the arguments are simplistic and not addressing all the issues in the round. It is an old adage that you can never win an emotional argument with science, but now we risk ignoring science in the pursuit of simple solutions.

Sometimes you wonder at the content of supposedly scientific and independent reports. These often depend on the assumptions made, and over the EU's Green Deal there is a dangerous 'groupthink' mentality. The classic definition of this is that alternative thinking is automatically excluded. There is no alternative to the need to tackle the effects of climate change, but there is still sound reason to debate the weapons being used in the battle. The EU Green Deal, rooted in an arbitrary carbon reduction figure, is a good example. This has become a mantra that must be pursued and a recent report from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) confirmed that mentality.

It claimed agriculture could deliver the lofty ambitions, centred around reduced pesticide use and a poorly thought-out plan to have 30% of EU farmland organic by 2030. Delivering a buoyant forecast often depends on three magic words that are the foundation of many reports. Those are 'let us assume' and the assumptions that are made dictate the conclusions – the fault line being if the assumptions are unrealistic, so too will be the conclusions. However there was one comment in the JRC report that needs to be grabbed by farmers, whether they are in the EU or elsewhere. It said that in embracing the Green Deal – and its Farm to Fork aspects in agriculture – the EU needed to guard against exporting the problem of climate change to countries with standards lower than those of the EU.

This simple statement goes to the core of the problem. It also underlines that this is a problem that needs to be tackled with the same commitment by every country and not only by the prosperous willing to pay for change. It is easy to insist, in the case of the EU, that a third of land must be organic or in the UK that farm support must be based around green standards rather than food production. However doing so while importing from countries that ignore the same rules is the height of hypocrisy and that needs to be targeted by farmers at every opportunity.

This is an area of weakness for all politicians. Allowing this to happen is akin to making green sacrifices while ignoring the growth of coal fired power stations elsewhere and China's awesome economic growth that could make it the world's biggest economy within ten years. But unless some backbone emerges at COP26 that is exactly what politicians are doing.