I’m as realistic as any other fair-minded person, especially on the topic of climate change, and unlike some I did not believe Copenhagen would be the backdrop upon which a herculean climate change document would be drafted. Change comes in small steps and since Kyoto failed with a bang, I knew Copenhagen would act as just the first stage in our ultimate goal to reduce emissions worldwide.
I live in Canada so I’m so very disappointed in what our Prime Minister is doing there. In short, he’s done everything by something. And that’s a travesty because we really suck when it comes to climate change. He opted to not deliver an address at the plenary session and has repeatedly suggested that developing countries hammer out a pact to reduce emissions before Canada.
That’s unfair. The developed world went through its industrial revolution with little regard for the environment, as it was not seen as a factor in those days. Now, as countries like India and China revolutionize, developed countries like Canada are demanding that they take action first? While of course those two powerhouses must act to reduce their emissions in some way, they cannot be expected to take the lead or draft a binding agreement now, just as the world is taking notice of their strides and unloading a great deal of respect on their leaders (see: White House Inaugural State Dinner). In the end, climate change is a political game.
Leaders must lead and as leaders of the world the developed nations must draft a BINDING agreement first. Copenhagen produced a non-binding agreement to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Farenheit. While neither the United States, South Africa, India, Brazil or China, all signatories of the pact, stated how this goal would be acheived, it is a goal set and one that the UN has taken “note” of but not approved. It even includes developing nations.
Of course this non-binding pact is hardly better than a verbal agreement, and is far from “unprecedented” as President Obama stated. However, while it isn’t groundbreaking, it is a start, and Obama was correct in stating that it’s a big deal that major economies (the U.S., India and China) have agreed that climate change needs to be addressed.
Other developing countries have lambasted the deal, which does include a clause to commit $100 billion by 2020 to developing nations affected by global warming. The major downfall of the agreement is its lack of specific pollution reductions, which is one of the main ways to keep temperature rise to a minimum. A 3.6 degree cap on temperature rise won’t be honored if pollution reductions aren’t drafted and agreed upon in a BINDING agreement.
However in that agreement, the United States or some other developed country, will have to take the lead, unlike Harper suggests. And that is step two.