Overheard in plenary

The most common question I’ve been asked since returning to Halifax from the Bonn climate talks, which ended last Friday, is, “What was the most inspirational thing that happened?”

The United Kingdom’s emissions are dropping year by year. China has committed $600 billion into green technology. There were 100 passionate young people present, ensuring the presence of another generation was seen and heard. The United States is fully participating at the negotiating table. Rich and polluting countries support the science that a 25 to 40% emission cut below 1990 levels by 2020 is completely necessary, and that we may need to go even farther.Picture 1

Inspirational notes aside, the resounding feeling coming away from the talks, is the deep rumbling craving for one simple attribute: Ambition.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bonn climate talks certainly moved forwards – like how my little sister moves forwards out of bed to the kitchen for breakfast at 6am. I want the negotiators to rush to their United Nations meeting desks with an ambitious level of tenacity, focus, and recognition of opportunity – because, the climate knows, we need it.

What is it that is missing? How can a driving desire for success be created? Is there a deeper level of emotion that needs unearthing? Do governments crave praise? Support? Love? Good will? Public demand? Is there more incentive needed?  I’ve adopted Canada’s negotiators. And I’m fiercely concerned about our country’s position based on the past 2 weeks.

Here’s why: (more…)

The youth are watching-final plenary. Photo Credit Robert Van Waarden

The youth are watching-final plenary. Photo Credit Robert Van Waarden

Sitting back at home after my first ever trip on the euro star (Is it usual to shout WOW quite so loudly when you come out of the tunnel?). I now have time to reflect on the events of the last two weeks.

I have come back from the UN talks, scared and frustrated and yet more motivated and passionate than ever.

We have six months left until Copenhagen, and presently it’s not looking good for getting a deal that will safeguard our future. But as I’ve said before, at heart I’m an optimist. Though at the minute the hope is only a glimmer, I’m not willing to give up yet.

But the time has come to stop activism as usual. Just as business as usual is killing the planet, so activism as usual is not coming up with the solutions.

The time for creativity is here, we need powerful activism that will really change the face of the debate.


Youth, Rap and Plenary

Youth, Rap and Plenary

And here’s the lyrics, courtesy of Caroline Howe:

Survival’s at Stake

Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*

The truth of climate change is all too clear;
We feel the climate impacts, they’re already here.
We know these climate changes will impact our health,
Threaten food security, safety and wealth.
Floods mean more drowning, and droughts more starvation
Adaptation and mitigation offer salvation.

All these massive changes making climate refugees;
No government is ready for migrations like these.
Largest emissions come from the wealthy,
But can we afford to keep the world healthy?

Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*

And how about your Kyoto deal?
It didn’t solve the problems we hoped it would heal.
Can we do it in Copenhagen?
Only with true global collaboration.
When will you all wake up to the truth
Your choices today are impacting the youth.
You’re still playing games with your children’s earth
Look me in the eyes, say what my future’s worth

Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*

It’s not just up to you, it’s also up to me
But I know I can be the change I want to see.

You talk about economy, trying to be thrifty
But how old will you be in the year 2050?

Ole’s (tracker) video : here

German television : here

Rumor in the halls is that Canada is waiting in the wings to see what emission reduction targets the United States puts on the table. The following table suggests that perhaps the US is not influencing Canada as rumor suggests – unfortunately. In summary, the United States is far ahead of Canada on targets and policies.

Have a look. The table speaks for itself.

Provided by Matthew Bramley of The Pembina Institute.

Provided by Matthew Bramley of The Pembina Institute.


JapanSpeechSi la journée ne devait avoir duré qu’une minute, elle aurait commencé aux environs de 10h49 pour se terminer à 10h50. Aujourd’hui, le délégué japonais s’est fondu d’une exceptionnelle intervention lors de la plénière. Au cours de cette déclaration, il a fait savoir au monde entier, deux points :

  • Le Japon veut prendre le leadership concernant les négociations sur le climat, et là, tout le monde se dit : nous avons enfin trouvé notre leader dans les négociations, celui qui en attendant l’arrivée promise d’Obama va mener et diriger les pourparlers dans le bon sens. Mais vient alors une seconde question ? Quelle direction ?
  • Par contre, tout le monde s’est tétanisé au moment où le Japon a enfin annoncé sa direction. Il s’engage à une réduction pour 2020 de 15% de ses émissions domestiques par rapport à 2005, ce qui plus clairement et par rapport à l’année de référence communément utilisée 1990 équivaut à une réduction de seulement 7 ou 8% soit juste 2 points de plus que par rapport aux exigences de Kyoto. La bonne blague. (more…)

Up until today, Canada had committed to, and I quote “X %” of emission reductions by the year 2020.  In one sarcasm-induced word: Awesome.

Mr. Michael Martin, Canada’s lead negotiator, joked at our last meeting that, “The X stands for 79.2% reductions.” Part of me wishes he hadn’t been joking. The reality is that Canada is suggesting that we commit to -2.7% below 1990 levels by 2020. To put this in perspective, that is less than half the size of our original Kyoto Protocol commitment, with triple the length of time frame.

I am very keen to read the text of the submission that Canada made to the UN Secretariat that explains why this target is a good idea. I certainly can’t think of a reason on my own, though I do trust that the government works in the best interest of the people, so this submission must have something solid in it to back this up. It must, right? (more…)