Much of the UN climate negotiations that went on in Copenhagen in December, 2009 was just so much hot air and spinning of wheels without any movement towards a liveable planet and a sustainable future for our children. But maybe things are changing. Recently a new bike innovation, called the Copenhagen Wheel, has been introduced, which might help this very green city reclaim it’s well-deserved reputation as an environmental leader. The Copenhagen Wheel, which is being touted as a way to help its namesake city become carbon-neutral by 2050, is a collaboration between MIT, the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Ducati Energia. Michael Lemonick over at Adventures In Climate Change had this to say about it recently:
Here’s how it works: you replace the rear wheel of your bike with the Copenhagen Wheel, which houses both an electric motor and a regenerative braking system that feeds power to the battery when you pedal backward to slow down. But (as they say on low-budget TV commercials) that’s not all! The wheel is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can use a smartphone to lock and unlock your bike, change gears and decide how much of a motor assist you prefer. You can also call up real-time information about how many calories you’re burning—and, thanks to built-in sensors, you can call up information about conditions around you, including temperature, humidity, noise and even nitrogen oxide pollution.
We are heading towards more than one global crisis – peak oil and climate change are going to change our world dramatically and quickly, in ways we can’t even imagine at this point. And there’s yet another economic and political crisis looming in the U.S., as the Obama administration goes head to head with the Rethuglicans over draconian budget measures to cut bloated U.S. government spending. Here in Canada we are in the middle of a federal election where the words “climate change” and “sustainability” have barely been mentioned.
Ironically, Stephen Harper seems to be touting Copenhagen as a victory for Canada’s climate change policy – talk about putting his own spin on things! As Elizabeth May pointed out, Copenhagen is “an expedient device for some industrialized countries to avoid their responsibilities”, and it was where Canada swept the “fossil of the day” awards throughout the conference, and ended up being awarded the “Colossal Fossil” for:
“…for bringing a totally unacceptable position into Copenhagen and refusing to strengthen it one bit. Canada’s 2020 target is among the worst in the industrialized world, and leaked cabinet documents revealed that the governments is contemplating a cap-and-trade plan so weak that it would put even that target out of reach.
“Canada has made zero progress here on financing, offering nothing for the short term or the long term beyond vague platitudes. And in last night’s high-level segment, Canada’s environment minister gave a speech so lame that it didn’t include a single target, number or reference to the science.
“Canada’s performance here in Copenhagen builds on two years of delay, obstruction and total inaction. This government thinks there’s a choice between environment and economy, and for them, tar sands beats climate every time. Canada’s emissions are headed nowhere but up. For all this and more, we name Canada the Colossal Fossil.”
Only a politician completely out of touch with the basics of climate science as well as the global push to address this crisis (and who is betting that Canadians are equally as out of it) would tout Copenhagen, and Canada’s feeble reduction targets, as victories in the fight against climate change!
The climate crisis is urgent, Canada has the lowest emission reduction targets in the industrialized world, and even the plan to reach those unacceptable targets have not been verified by an independent third-party. Stephen Harper, and his buddies in the Alberta oil patch, are not going to move Canada towards a low-carbon future. Climate change is the single largest challenge that faces our country today, and Stephen Harper is dangerously lacking in vision and, frankly, basic common sense! Every day that Stephen Harper remains prime minister threatens our children’s future. His economic policy is not grounded in any recognition of how Canadians, like every other person on this globe, depend on clean air, clean water, and a stable climate to thrive in every way, including economically.
How can our politicians ignore the science on the climate crisis? We have a rapidly closing window to address this issue. And yes, it requires courage to tackle climate change, but if we don’t act very soon, we are going to slip into that land of runaway global warming where nothing that humanity can do to change it will be enough. I echo Elizabeth May’s question to all the federal party leaders:
How do you aspire to the name “leader” when you are afraid to address the biggest challenge that we face?
The animated film, “The Coalition of the Willing” is an appropriate follow-up to this Tuesday’s post on Paul Hawken’s message of a huge, unprecedented global movement for democracy and human rights gathering steam right now. The movie is a collaborative effort by a group of creative minds who are passionate about empowering people to make changes in our world that governments can’t or won’t. Their website states:
‘Coalition of The Willing’ is a film that discusses how we can use new internet technologies to leverage the powers of activists, experts, and ordinary citizens in collaborative ventures to combat climate change. Through analyses of swarm activity and social revolution, ‘Coalition of the Willing’ makes a compelling case for the new online activism and explains how to bring the fight against global warming to the people.
First, a short excerpt featuring open sourcing on the net as the way of the future:
The following is a guest posting by Cathy Orlando, a climate change activist from Sudbury, Ontario, who was trained by Al Gore several years ago. It is a reposting from The Green Nexus.com
On Wednesday April 14, 2010 Bill C311, The Climate Change Accountability Act, goes for third and final reading in Canada’s House of Commons.
Here is the science of climate change in three numbers:
350 ppm is the safe amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Above this level, the planet is at grave risk for global climate collapse for our grandchildren (1).
391.06 ppm is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now.
770 ppm is the amount of carbon dioxide that will be in the atmosphere by 2100 under the Copenhagen Accord
Thus, the world leaders in December 2009 in Copenhagen came up with a climate change plan that will condemn future generations to live on planet where sea levels will rise, there will be mass migrations and people won’t know where to live or grow food. This translates to: there be global wars for future generations (2).
The highlights of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act (3) include:
– require our government to use science to guide climate change policy in Canada
– hold our government legally accountable to follow our international legal obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, unlike what they did for the Kyoto Protocol which was an internationally and legally binding agreement (4) (5) (6)
An argument that you may hear regarding Bill C311 is that limiting greenhouse gas emissions will collapse the economy. Please read Paul Krugman’s 10 page New York Times article this week and then see how well this argument holds (7). Who are you going to trust with regards to climate change policy and economics? A political party with much of its power base in the oil industry or Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.
Another argument is that we need to synchronize our climate policy with the US because they are our biggest trading partner. I agree with this argument because there will be trade barriers. However, why can’t Canada take the lead on climate change policy on this continent?
What are the chances of Bill C311 of passing through third reading this week in Parliament? It’s not looking good. There are rumours that the Liberals are not going to support Bill C311.
What can you do? If you are Canadian and live in a riding with a Conservative or Liberal MP, please contact them NOW. There is not much time. Politely ask parliamentarians to either support Bill C311 or give solid explanations to you of what is wrong with Bill C311.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be attending the Copenhagen Conference after all, it was announced yesterday, one day after Harper had said he wasn’t going to be attending. No reason was given for the flip-flop. At recent climate change conferences such as Bali, Canada has sided with the old U.S. administration, Australia, and Japan to block serious 2020 emission reduction targets. The other delegates at the Bali conference went so far as to boo the U.S. delegation. Finally, the delegate from Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad, challenged the U.S.:
“If you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way.”
To see footage of the Bali conference and Kevin Conrad’s rebuke to the U.S. (and by association, Canada, Australia, and Japan) click here.
Remember, it was in Bali that Canada was awarded the “Fossil of the Day” gold medal, the U.S. got the silver, and the two countries together shared the bronze! These are awarded to the nations that were most active in blocking, stalling, or undermining the UN climate change negotiations. While the other countries Canada sided with – the U.S., Australia, and Japan – have all had a change in leadership, here in Canada we are blessed to have the Harper Conservatives once again leading our nation’s delegation. And they are insisting that Canada is working on the international front “actively and constructively through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to develop an effective international agreement to address climate change in the post-2012 period.” (personal correspondence from David McGovern, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian International Affairs Branch). Mind you, this is what they insisted at Bali, as well. As the Toronto Star said of Canada at Bali:
It is hard to argue that one is building bridges when they so obviously lead nowhere.
The G20 finance ministers are meeting this weekend in Scotland, and apparently climate change financing is not even on the agenda, although the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen are less than 5 weeks away and funding is a critical part of reaching a global agreement. If you want to send a message to your minister now, and urge them to put climate change back on the agenda, go this Avaaz.org link.