Sunday, December 20, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
Interviewed by host Rex Murphy on the December 20, 2009 program
"What's your reaction to the Copenhagen climate summit?"
Host Rex Murphy's introduction to the December 20, 2009 program:
"What is your reaction to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen? And what does it mean for Canada?"
The Copenhagen UN Climate Conference has just ended. No doubt it was the largest yet, with some press reports putting the numbers there at about 40 thousand.
It had been long anticipated as the main successor meeting to that of Kyoto. It was a dramatic meeting. Things seemed to be going badly during its last week and then there were highly publicized last minute all night sessions and the final day visit of US President Barack Obama who arrived, spoke and then became quite active in tying to get resolution towards some kind of agreement on carbon emissions and how to achieve them.
Just to sample some of the drama here's a few sentences from one report: " The deal came after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Chinese protocol officers noisily protested, and Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret. The intrusion led to new talks that cemented key terms of the deal, American officials said."
The Guardian newspaper summarized what was accomplished: "After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord "recognises" the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees Celsius but does not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal."
The deal aims to provide $30-billion dollars a year for poor countries to adapt to climate change from next year to 2012, and $100-billion a year by 2020.
Some participants praised the deal, Obama described it as unprecedented others as historic. But many of the very high profile environmental organizations were extremely vigorous in their condemnation of it. A Greenpeace spokesperson caught that best: "The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport."
Going into Copenhagen hopes were high among many for an international agreement that would cement new tighter standards on carbon emissions and transfers of money to developing nations. Some others looked at it with fear that it would mark the beginning of an international regime that would hobble the economies of the developed world.
The end result was an agreement with no specific legally binding targets but a renewed commitment to negotiate something more concrete soon. This obviously disappointed some but cheered others.
Canada went into the summit nursing a bruised reputation for being a climate laggard . The Prime Minister Mr. Harper for his part said his goals were simple: to seek an agreement that the whole world would move in concert towards setting standards for controlling carbon emissions.
Not just a federal concern, the conference was watched intently by all the provinces too. At one point it sparked sharp public exchanges. Ontario and Quebec took the opportunity to distance themselves from Alberta saying they would refuse to carry any of the cost of cutting back their emissions especially from the oilsands.
Alberta is sensitive on this point. The oilsands in some quarters have become an international symbol of unsustainable energy. Yet Alberta is one of the few jurisdictions in the world with a functioning greenhouse gas regulatory system. Alberta premier Ed Stelmach shot back that if his province's economy is killed then who will support the programs in other provinces.
We want to hear from you on this. What progress do you think was made? What do you think of the agreement that was reached. If not sufficient why was it not. Are meetings of the scale of Copenhagen the best or most efficient for drawing up accords? What did you think of President Obama's intervention?
What about Canada's role? Are we "the laggard" of the world? Or is this country unfairly being picked out? What about the disagreements between provinces - as Quebec and Ontario directly criticised Alberta. What's the future of the oil sands? Are they a fair target, or just easy symbolism? Are we starting to see the first shots in what might prove to be a bitter fight between provinces?
Our topic today: What is your reaction to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen? How do you asses it as a meeting, and what did you think of its results? And what does it mean for Canada?
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.