HOPEFULLY, for the sake of future generations, the COP26 event in Glasgow might deliver some meaningful outcomes.

To date it has been a festival of hypocrisy and half-hearted promises. Hundreds of private jets arrived as delegates deemed themselves too important to make the travel sacrifices they demand of others; corporate leaders used the events to brush up their PR image.

Boris Johnson resorted to platitudes around football to claim progress, while ignoring the reality that two key contributors to the problem – China and Russia – were absent. Without them anything agreed will be ineffective, but that will not stop political spin that, if it could be tapped, would power a small town.

Read more: Farming can't become 'green' overnight

Farmers watching events will nod knowingly as politicians do what they do best – bluff, fudge and compromise while ignoring the facts. By contrast farmers, ignored despite the positives they deliver every day, simply got on with doing what they do every day to deliver green outcomes. But not only were the merits of what they do to lock up carbon and deliver the countryside people want ignored, farmers had a big new target painted on their backs.

Like a delegate using the podium to deliver their version of the calamity facing the world, methane elbowed carbon out of the way to take centre stage. Now 100 plus countries have pledged to take steps to reduce their methane output by 2030. Note in this the use of the world pledge, because that is all it is – there are no firm targets and no sanctions. This is the outcome of a deal on a methane pledge a few weeks ago between the EU and United States. This is another reality of COP26. The UK might be the host and its government is seemingly ready to bet our money on unproven technologies – but climate change is really a game for the big power blocs, two of which gave the event a miss. Without them it is the EU and US in the driving seat, with the UK and others tying onto whatever they agree.

Predictably then, the general media, in awe of COP 26 to the degree that they have set aside all critical judgement, used a picture of livestock to headline the methane cut plan. Methane comes from a number of sources, including wet lands, natural gas used to heat homes and of course livestock. The target is on farmers' backs because in the debate they are the easy targets. The drive to make meat and dairy products socially unacceptable will now intensify. For all the wrong reasons, the livestock industry will be drawn into a global debate and this pressure to eat less meat and consume fewer dairy products.

Farmers will be seen as the low hanging fruit but that is not the point of the EU/US methane pledge. It is about an overall reduction from all sources and, when it comes to livestock, the US in particular is making much of the need for science to come into the equation. This would be about maintaining meat and dairy output while using science to develop different feed regimes to tackle the problem, literally at source.

Read more: Farming's voice must be heard at COP26

Politicians love simplistic solutions and this peaks at events like COP 26. If methane stands alone as a target for reduction it will repeat the errors with carbon. Linking a carbon output figure to a farming enterprise has always produced bizarre outcomes. The prime example is that a suckler cow producing a calf while maintaining the landscape and biodiversity will have a much greater carbon measure attached than an intensive indoors bull beef finishing system. This is about one animal carrying the carbon footprint rather than it being averaged. This is what happens when the drive is to create a simple figure that can be attached to a product for marketing purposes.

The same is now in danger of happening with methane. Unlike others, the UK will embrace the policy, if only to show that while it is a global bit player in the green debate, it can make the big, costly gestures. Climate change must be tackled, but even after COP 26 politicians will continue to fudge issues. Big decisions would be tariffs on China or a ban on big companies avoiding action by buying up carbon credits. Instead politicians continue to look for solutions that will have as much impact as pouring a glass of water on a forest fire.