The federal government wasted no time Saturday trying to take some of the sting out of criticism that it failed to play a meaningful role in global climate change talks in Denmark that produced a shaky agreement.
Hours after returning home from Denmark Saturday, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice started the job of selling the agreement to the Canadian public, calling it a significant step toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
I got news for you, Jim. The only people buying have already been bought and sold. The rest of us know better.
The best wrap-up on Copenhagen I've seen so far is from Johann Hari, writing in The Independent (UK).
So that's it. The world's worst polluters – the people who are drastically altering the climate – gathered here in Copenhagen to announce they were going to carry on cooking, in defiance of all the scientific warnings.
They didn't seal the deal; they sealed the coffin for the world's low-lying islands, its glaciers, its North Pole, and millions of lives.
Those of us who watched this conference with open eyes aren't surprised. Every day, practical, intelligent solutions that would cut our emissions of warming gases have been offered by scientists, developing countries and protesters – and they have been systematically vetoed by the governments of North America and Europe.
It's worth recounting a few of the ideas that were summarily dismissed – because when the world finally resolves to find a real solution, we will have to revive them.
Discarded Idea One: The International Environmental Court. Any cuts that leaders claim they would like as a result of Copenhagen will be purely voluntary. If a government decides not to follow them, nothing will happen, except a mild blush, and disastrous warming. Canada signed up to cut its emissions at Kyoto, and then increased them by 26 per cent – and there were no consequences. Copenhagen could unleash a hundred Canadas.
The brave, articulate Bolivian delegates – who have seen their glaciers melt at a terrifying pace – objected. They said if countries are serious about reducing emissions, their cuts need to be policed by an International Environmental Court that has the power to punish people. This is hardly impractical. When our leaders and their corporate lobbies really care about an issue – say, on trade – they pool their sovereignty this way in a second. The World Trade Organisation fines and sanctions nations severely if (say) they don't follow strict copyright laws. Is a safe climate less important than a trademark?
Discarded Idea Two...
Go here; it's worth reading.