UN Climate Summit: Flickers of Hope, but the Building is Still Burning

Heard on the street: “I hate it when the president comes to town”

New York is in disarray. Almost every mid-town street corner east of Broadway is choked with flatfoots, guns and radios tugging at their belts. As you get closer to First Avenue - closer to the United Nations Building - the barricades start appearing on the sidewalks and the traffic ebbs and flows depending on whether a presidental cavalcade is currently in motion.

In the last block, traffic disappears altogether. The constant thrum of this boundless city gives over to the quiet clatter of helicopters high overhead. Small clusters of UN delegates, bureaucrats, activists and journalists wait for permission to move to the next choke point - wait for the passing of the next parade.

As it turns out, there is not just one president in town. There are probably 60 - among almost 100 heads of state here today for the UN Climate Summit. You can judge the perceived importance of these various world leaders by how many police cars and high-security SUVs are in each individuals convoy - and by the tension on the faces of the soldiers riding in those SUV’s, their M16s at the ready.

Climate Week: Denial Never Sleeps

Anti-activists: “Real grassroots; not Astroturf”

Wandering through New York in the early part of Climate Week, climate activists were interrupted periodically by forceful protesters assuring us that climate change is not a scientific reality, it’s a wild-eyed plot by the dastardly Al Gore and his minions to trick us into wrecking the (Exxon?) economy.

When questioned as to whom was funding the most prominent of these protests (in front of the NY Public Library immediately before the opening ceremony), a well-dressed, 30-something pamphleteer said, “We are. We’re real grasroots; not Astroturf.”

This sounds exactly like a guilty conscience. It also sounds, in the vernacular, like bullshit.

Who's that guy standing next to Wolverine?

Absent a Captain Canuck, Quebec’s Jean Charest Takes the Stage

On a day when the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chage was quoted dismissing Canada as “not at the table” in climate negotiatons, Quebec Premier Jean Charest took to the stage at Climate Week in New York.

Flanking actor Hugh Jackman (with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair standing on the other side), Charest looked both oddly out of place - and right in his element.

The latter part is understandable. He has been on this file from the beginning. He attended the Rio summit in 1992 as Canada’s Environment Minister. As the Quebec Premier since 2003, he has been a national leader in setting reasonably progressive climate policy.

On Monday, he stressed the importance of that action, in Canada and around the world, calling for leadership and engagement from what he characterized as “sub-national states.”

Climate Week: Raise Your Hopes; Lower Your Expectations

“Don’t make the best the enemy of the good.” - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Climate Week has launched in New York City with contradictory calls to be optimistic about UN climate negotiations culminating in Copenhagen in December, but to keep our expectations low about the strength of any ultimate deal.

The actual “festivities” are all married to what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called “the largest climate change summit in history.” One hundred world leaders are scheduled to gather at the United Nations tomorrow, not likely to further any negotiating positions, but to add their weight to the appearance of a global consensus that climate action - overdue - is on the way.

In honor of this meeting, there are 1,000 Climate Week events booked around the world, 70 in New York City alone. It;s hard to get past a mid-town street corner without bumping into someone mid-pitch on some kind of climate change related issue.

Monckton “Apocalypse” to Contaminate Canada

>Christopher Walter, the self-aggrandizing Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is barnstorming through Western Canada next month, pretending scientific expertise that he doesn’t have and spreading complacency about climate change.

Monckton’s four-city speaking tour is billed as “Apocalypse Cancelled: The Overheated Hype behind Global Warming.” Promoted by the right-wing think tanks, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Fraser Institute, as well as by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and (shame) the Calgary Herald, the advertising flyers say that Monckton will be “arguing the importance of getting the science right.”

If true, this will be a change of policy for Christopher the journalist, classicist and failed politician.


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