Climate Change

Calling the Bluff in Copenhagen

By Peter Ormond
Published December 10, 2009

Fireworks have already erupted here in Copenhagen. Like a poker game, political parties assert their supposed positions, and interest groups noisily rattle the cages of justice, morality and the global establishment.

Desperate Pacific Island States, already feeling the pressures of climate change, are leading the threat to create a fast-track climate action pact that accelerates the dragging Kyoto Protocol.

However, the 130 developing nations known as G77 plus China are now working through this rift, amplified by the leaking of a Danish text that suggested a two-tier discussion instead of the acclaimed transparent agreement between all states - developed and developing.

Continuous Improvement

Initially, we wanted a FAB deal here - Fair, Ambitious and Binding. Now equitable and human rights have been added to the criteria. Especially when considering that several island states and coastal regions in the Southern Hemisphere, where most least developed countries exist, are extremely vulnerable to sea level and weather events.

In that case, World Health Organization intervention would be expected - hence the sense of urgency at these negotiations.

These developing nations rightly assert that the industrialized world has burned fuel to create wealth, and thereby contributed to this climate change situation. This Copenhagen Accord would oversee the investment of a fraction of that global wealth to reduce the world's emissions, and save the world so to speak.

Tools are in Place

A complex series of mechanisms and tools allow countries to develop and implement their own management plans through a regulated framework. Carbon tax, land use, forest management, technology implementation, or investment in emission-reducing projects in developing countries (CDM - clean development mechanism) or developed countries (JI - joint implementation) are just some of the avenues for technology transfer and net reductions in GHG emissions around the globe.

Although Canada and other countries agree publicly with this reasoning, they demand that large emitters like China and India also make commitments. Now that these massive countries have agreed, this barrier should now be dissolved.

Still Resisting the Opportunity

The real challenge is that developed countries like Canada are still trying to finesse loopholes within the agreement that in effect reduces the true targets.

Canada is the only signatory to Kyoto that refutes commitments to that treaty and has changed its own reference year - from 1990 to 2006.

Now that the media spotlight is on Canada, the traditional global climate big-bad-guy, interest groups at this conference, including the Climate Action Network are working diligently to make sure that any backward dance moves are kept in check.

Canada 'Committed to Ambitious Action'?

Today, Michael Martin, Canada's Ambassador for Climate Change, stated that Canada is "committed to ambitious action". Like it or not, this means an immediate:

What does this mean for Hamilton?

Raising the Ante

A $10B start-up fund, over and above existing ODA (Overseas Development Aid) is requested to get climate change action rolling in developing countries. Most of the developed nations have already anted up.

As one diplomat notes, "This would signify a reversal of the exploitation of developing countries since the 16th century". We're ready for that shift.

Final Note: While in Copenhagen, I was discouraged to see that Ontario is again touting the Nuclear Renaissance. Remember that Canada could pay its share for this Climate Change fund just from the interest paid annually for Ontario's past Nuclear Power Plant fiascos (debt retirement charge). Please, let's not put our eggs into the nuclear basket again. Otherwise, the same in = the same out.

this was first published on Peter's blog

Peter lives near Bayfront Park in Hamilton's historic North End. He enjoys writing about sustainable possibilities and the local benefits that result. Peter is the Green Party of Ontario Candidate for Hamilton Centre.

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