I keep thinking about Copenhagen, and what its consequences will be for Canada. Given the absence of any meaningful agreement, there are no immediate legal consequences, and we are likely to get away with our flagrant breach of the Kyoto Protocol. The biggest consequence for Canada will probably be the erosion of our national reputation – instead of being nice people, punching above our true international weight, we are now the Fossil of the Year, ragging on about “Climategate” when the rest of the world has moved on. As a country heavily dependent on the rest of the world, this will likely hurt us, hard, for a long time. Not to mention how vulnerable our own country is to climate change.
The next challenge will be how we respond to the draft, 12 paragraph Copenhagen Accord. By January 31, 2010, every developed country is asked to commit to a new, economy-wide emission target for 2020. What will Canada promise?All developed countries are asked to “further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol”, which we promised but didn’t deliver. The second challenge will be to our generosity: how much will we contribute to the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, and other funds to support climate mitigation and adaptation in poor countries?
Canada hasn’t signed the Copenhagen Accord, but it’s hard to imagine us refusing to go along. Our biggest trade partners, including the US, want it to happen, and Canada has already said we will follow the US lead.
It’s sad, but true, that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the would-be Detroit airplane bomber) has done more to fight climate change than anything the Canadian government has done in the last year. Air travel is one of the most damaging things ordinary Westerners do to the climate, and Abdulmutallab has singlehandedly made air travel much more difficult, slow, expensive and unpleasant. He has also dealt a body blow to the economics of many air travel companies and airports, and probably caused the cancellation of more flights than anything else since 9/11. Trains, cars, buses, even staying home are suddenly looking much more attractive.