Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Virtual Durban: An exercise in sadness

Following the climate talks from afar is turning into a full-time job and an exercise in sadness. No matter how I examine it or what sources I use, the news is not good.

First, the problem is not going away. Even the venerable International Energy Agency says time is running out. The world's authority on all issues associated with energy declared a five year window for meeting any civilization-saving climate goals. The IEA is one of the most conservative sector organizations in the world. So when they warn about the urgency of climate change, I sit up and take notice. CBC's coverage here.

Second, my nation is one of the most obstructionist participants in this climate change conference. Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, on the same day that China offered to make concessions. Not a very cooperative stance. Not a good sign for hope of a future global treaty to save humankind. We used to be a world leader in collaborative politics and progressive ideas. By pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada took the global lead in selfishness. It is ironic that Canada's position seems protectionist. It will ultimately lead to economic stagnation, as we find ourselves outside of international markets when carbon trade barriers block Canadian goods and other nations take advantage of the clean tech economy. Read The Toronto Star's coverage of Canada's intransigence here.

Finally, there is the sadness of the realization of the devastation that climate change is wreaking even as I write this. On the eve of the first day of the Durban COP 17 conference, there was a flash flood that destroyed a village, killing ten people very near to the conference site. If the real devastation of a community by climate change on the eve of the conference does not inspire our leaders to make a change, there may be no hope for any of us. Sad to say, greed may be trumping hope. Even more sad that my country may be leading the greed parade. Huffington Post's Heather Libby's account of the flash flood here.

Photo is courtesy of the UNFCCC and depicts signs from the Day of Protest on Saturday.

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