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Bracing For Disappointment As Durban Climate Talks Begin

2011/11/26

The annual circus round of global climate talks starts on Monday in South Africa. I wish I was feeling more optimistic about the possibility of elected politicians to come to an agreement that would preserve an admittedly changed, but still relatively stable climate, for future generations. As the IEA reminded us recently, we have five years left. If nothing changes by 2017, if we don’t revolutionize energy systems, if  countries can’t agree on a global climate deal, global warming will breach the 2 degrees Celsius barrier and we will be locked into runaway climate change.

As I type this, I’m bracing myself to listen to our federal “Environment” Minister Peter Kent on CBC radio’s The House. Sure enough, he starts by bashing the Kyoto Accord, and then goes on to cover Canada’s inaction on climate change with the fig leaf of wanting “all the world’s emitters” to be part of an agreement. The Kyoto Accord, as Evan Solomon points out, was a binding agreement, unlike Copenhagen. In response, Mr. Kent feels that Canada is “well on its way” to meeting its (unacceptably low) 2020 targets. Then he pulls out that old chestnut, that Canada represents only 2% of the world’s emissions (yes, Minister Kent, but we emit much more per capita than any other country except Australia). He doesn’t have a plan to reveal on how Canada will meet the rest of the (unacceptably low) 2020 targets, but says they will be revealed “over time”.  The federal environment watchdog has pointed out that the federal government’s approach is disjointed, but Mr. Kent defends the Harper government’s piecemeal, half-hearted approach. In conclusion, Mr. Kent’s ideal outcome for the Durban conference is for a “modest” but non-binding agreement that includes “all emitters”.  Not surprising that this environment minister, who doesn’t understand what ozone is yet has slashed funding for this crucial environmental monitoring, also doesn’t have a clue about the urgency of the climate crisis (although you’d think he’d at least read the International Energy Agency’s reports, coming as it does from a petroleum industry watchdog, as opposed to anything that scientists or environmentalists produce which Kent’s ideological bent would disallow).

I fear what we will see in Durban is many politicians but few leaders, even as we teeter closer to the precipice of global climate catastrophe.

Durban COP17 Resources:

Allianz Knowledge, an insurance and financial giant, has excellent resources for understanding climate change in general, and the U.N. climate talks in general: Knowledge.Allianz.com

Are Durban Climate Talks Worth the Bother?

Politicians Need To Listen To the People, Not the Polluters

The House: November 26, 2011

Hamilton: Fiscal Challenges? Maybe It’s Time To Reconsider a Carbon Tax

8 Comments leave one →
  1. jay permalink
    2011/11/26 3:57 pm

    I wish Europe was in a position to boycott Canadian tar sands like they do for Inuit art. I guess cute baby seals matter more than climate change.

  2. LMA permalink
    2011/11/26 10:43 pm

    The European Union is also considering treating Tar Sands oil as dirtier than conventional oil thereby blocking them from the European market. Naturally, the Canadian petrostate is lobbying furiously against this move.

    As for Peter Kent, he has no plan for regulations to lower Tar Sands emissions, only new “monitoring” which I suppose is better than nothing. Delay, delay, delay seems to be his only strategy. Individual countries don’t have to wait for a global agreement to act, that’s just another excuse for inaction.

  3. Christine permalink*
    2011/11/26 11:25 pm

    You’re right, the Harper govt is working furiously to overturn the Fuel Quality Directive, and for some reason the British govt is supporting them.
    Have you seen this video of British climate activists crashing the Canada-Europe Round Table in London a while back? http://vimeo.com/30373841

  4. K Lydom permalink
    2012/02/21 6:39 pm

    The fact that you support oil from countries that threaten nuclear war, enslave thier women, commit terrorist acts on (sometimes) innocent countries, and seek to cleans the earth through theology tells me you are blinded by passion. Your passion however is misplaced. I work as a rig manager in the imfamous TARSANDS, and do understand the great lengths we go through to protect the environment. And most countries you might get your oil from (and you do get and use oil from somewhere) do not. If you are this passionate about the environment allow me to pose a few questions. Do you drive a car, fly in an airplane? Do you heat your house/use air conditioning? How about lights? These are all generated in various forms from oil. You just want a scapegoat! Make it feel like it is someone elses fault. Hate to say it people but we are all in this together, and we are all guilty. It boggles the mind how people hate my tarsands, but the BP disaster is all but forgotten. Why dont you people pick on offshore drilling? Or admit you are actually equally guilty of consuming oil, and oil products, and enjoy the ride!

    • 2012/02/21 7:20 pm

      Sounds like you’ve been drinking some “ethical oil” koolaid, KL. The issue of climate change is multi-faceted, as you point out, but the answer isn’t to point fingers at individuals when the problem is systemic, and needs to be addressed at that level. The oil industry has been subsidized to the tune of over a billion dollars of Canadian tax payer’s money EVERY YEAR, and they are addicted to the green stuff as well as the sticky black stuff. While it’s difficult to imagine a different world, there is one coming, it’s just around the corner.

      For some more on so-called “ethical” oil, here’s Naomi Klein

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