The countdown is on. Two weeks until Copenhagen.
The world’s been busy. Leaders have been flying around, bilateral discussions are popping up all over the place, and even the US is building up domestic targets and legislation. Despite lethargic announcements by a few countries at the APEC summit last week, many countries have ramped up their expectations for Copenhagen and don’t look likely to back down – Brazil is a prominent example.
Back at home in Canada, things are heating up – while Ottawa is typically foggy.
Stephen Harper has said he is not likely to show up in Copenhagen, unless of course, other leaders go too (always a team player!).
Environment Minister Jim Prentice explained Canada’s position on the talks to the Globe and Mail. Prentice argued that ‘the best we can do is frame out the points of consensus, the points of disagreement and build and maintain some momentum around a shorter political agreement’. Ultimately, he suggests that a legal agreement could be likely in 2011. A key issue, of course, is Canada’s role as an energy superpower.
Minister Prentice does have a point here, no matter what agreement is reached, there will likely be increasing demand for Canada’s favourite high-carbon export. Granted, the tar sands are sticky, and there are no easy answers. But just because Canada’s role is complicated does not mean we take a backseat.
In fact, a recent poll showed over three quarters of Canadians are ‘chagrined’ at Canada’s role in the climate talks… inspiring a group of youth in Halifax to drop their pants in public.
Public pressure is on the rise. In breaking news, seven people were detained last night after a sit-in in Prentice’s office, demanding that Canada become a “Climate leader, not laggard”.
The Bloq Quebecois has presented a bill in Parliament that would bring targets in line with a maximum 2 degree rise in temperature, financially assist developing nations, and adopt the goal of 20% reductions below 1990 levels by 2020. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of that. Similar initiatives, like Bill C311, have been caught indefinitely in the partisan windmill. Hopefully we can start getting over that. Could all this activity, from the sublime to the ridiculous, inspire our politicians?
Definitely, things are heating up in Canada. But better things heat up now politically, than later catastrophically…
With love, en route to Copenhagen
About the authorRosa Kouri
Rosa recently completed an MSc in Environmental Policy at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Rosa is originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has a Joint Honours BA in Economics and Political Science from McGill University. Her research at Oxford focused on unpacking Green Jobs and understanding the multiple perspectives on job creation in the transition to a low-carbon economy.