Canadian negotiators are stuck between a rock and a hard place. These people, government bureaucrats, are sent in good faith by the Canadian government to discuss and deliver on agreements under global climate change agreements. The team may very well be sent with specific mandates of flexibility (or lack thereof), and there may be little room to actually negotiate. But there is room. Plenty of it, and full of potential.
We must remember that we are working with a government that 1) cut climate change funding by 80% in the first month of being elected, and 2) is the only country in the world that has said it will *not* meet its Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets.
We’re also working with a country with an economy currently depends largely on 1) our 2nd largest oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia, and 2) trade relationships with the United States of America.
This means that there is reason to back down on climate commitments, but certainly not reason enough to outweigh the reason why we should live up to our word – and to our world.
Canada was off to a bit of a rough start today. We went into the United Nations saying that “all” countries should be following the same plan that was decided a year and a half ago at negotiations in Bali – a tall order for developing countries. The problem with this is that there’s a term called “common but differentiated responsibilities” that is core to all UN climate talks.
This term means that all countries have the responsibility to act on climate change, but that industrialized countries should do it first (since we’re the ones that started this in the first place), and that industrializing countries are to follow. This mistake (and perhaps it was simply a typo or a mis-read) cost Canada a “Fossil of the Day Award”, referring to the ways of using fossil fuels (that contribute to climate change). This award is certainly not a good one to “win”, particularly not on day one.
Never-the-less, both government and non-government organizations are here at this conference for the same core reason. No one wakes up in the morning wanting to bring the world down in a bad case of climate change. At the same time, no one wakes up in the morning with the same idea of how to fully deal with it in the first place.
In two weeks, Canada could choose to be a leader. The collective power of the hundreds of countries at this conference is what is going to make these agreements, and all the agreements leading up to the major climate talks in December, actually mean something positive, productive and stricken with hope.
This is but an introduction to the next two weeks, while the next two weeks could be the introduction to the story we’ve been waiting for. And it could be, with thanks to Canada.
If you have something you want the Canadian delegation to know, please let us know by responding here.