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