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This is week five for me at the helm of the good ship Sierra, navigating through the rough waters of the Copenhagen Climate Conference -- perhaps the most important international negotiation of all time. The survival of millions of people could rest on the outcome of the one meeting. It’s not a single event, however – it’s the product of 20 years of negotiation and science. And it just got a big boost: the US Environmental Protection agency just made CO2 a pollutant in the United States, meaning President Obama can put limits on emissions without any new laws from the Congress where the climate bill is bogged down in partisan wrangling.

  The remaining challenge for the world is, of course, Canada. We like to think of ourselves as the good guys. We grew up being told about the important role Canada plays in the world. A Canadian wrote the UN charter, a Canadian invented UN Peacekeeping and Canada was the lead country in the Land Mines Convention. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few high notes it’s been pretty well downhill from there. Canada is now the number one bad guy trying to put the needs of the oil industry ahead of the global climate. We’re not just not leading, we are out of step with the rest of the world.   I’ve put 20 years into this climate thing and I’m getting a little crusty about it. I just did an interview with CTV’s Montreal station. The anchor asked why Canada seems incapable of doing anything about climate change and I told him the truth: “The oil barons are only concerned with profits today, and to hell with our grand children.” Maybe a little over the top but it’s time we understood what oil money does to a country.   We are often cautioned not to develop an “us and them” mentality. It creates barriers between people and makes it hard to find compromise. That attitude leads to quotes I saw in the Globe and Mail today from oil industry types who think the tar sands are a communication problem. They just have to get out and tell a better story about the destruction of thousands of square kilometers, emission of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and the pollution of lakes and rivers with toxic waste. Then the public will understand how great the oil industry really is. They forget that even if they fixed all that the problem is the product – the oil itself. Burning it causes global warming and we have to stop doing it.   When I first started talking about climate change impacting my grandchildren I didn’t actually expect to have any by the time something was finally done about it. But the way things have been going, there’s a very good chance that this father of three daughters will be a grandfather before Canada acts.   I’m an optimist. It may take Canadians awhile to realize there’s a threat, but once we do, we have a long history of pitching in and doing whatever is necessary and making whatever sacrifice is required.   So I’m off to Copenhagen. -- I’ll keep you informed.

 

Comments

basketballshoes

The remaining challenge for the world is, of course, Canada. We like to think of ourselves as the good guys. We grew up being told about the important role Canada plays in the world. A Canadian wrote the UN charter, a Canadian invented UN Peacekeeping and Canada was the lead country in the Land Mines Convention. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few high notes it’s been pretty well downhill from there. Canada is now the number one bad guy trying to put the needs of the oil industry ahead of the global climate. We’re not just not leading, we are out of step with the rest of the world.

basketballshoes

When I first started talking about climate change impacting my grandchildren I didn’t actually expect to have any by the time something was finally done about it. But the way things have been going, there’s a very good chance that this father of three daughters will be a grandfather before Canada acts.

            

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