Poznan: Canada replaces U.S. as "single worst" country

After eight years during which the United States was consistently derided as the most obstructive force in international climate negotiations, Canada moved into worst place today, receiving the “Colossal Fossil” award for having done more than any other country to drag down talks at the UN climate negotiations in Poznan.

The Fossil of the Day award, selected by a vote each afternoon of the International Climate Action Network, is pretty much the only light-hearted part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but the jocular spirit belies an underlying seriousness. Canada was roundly criticized - including by the UNFCCC ambassadors of France and South Africa - for failing to embrace science-based emission-reduction targets and, generally, for slowing negotiations.

That, however, didn’t disturb Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice, who in a news conference after the announcement of the Fossil award, said, “It’s been a successful conference, one that will set the stage for (next year’s meeting in) Copenhagen.”

The Minister said, “Canada has done what we committed to do, engage in a constructive dialogue.”

While many people had hoped that this meeting would advance the progress of an agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, Minister Prentice said he understsood that the goal of this meeting was to set out workplans, timetables and processes that will lead toward a December 2009 deadline in Copenhagen. In that regard, Prentice said this, the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Framework convention was indeed a success.

But the 400-group coalition of the International Climate Action Network (CAN) denied that this massive conference was just supposed to be a planning meeting. CAN speakers particularly criticized the stalling of Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the so-called umbrella group. CAN mocked the “brollies,” as they are sometimes known, for boasting that the 3,000 delegates to this conference had reaffirmed greenhouse gas reduction targets that were agreed upon last year at the COP meeting in Bali,

It’s a sad comment when the best thing negotiators have to offer is that they didn’t go backwards - even if the group looked like it was losing ground throuh some of the negotiations. Said the CAN spokesperson: “Guess what progress isn’t?”

The absence of movement now leaves considerable pressure on all countries to forge a consensus on a new plan, and CAN Canada observers again said Canada was much to blame.

Canada played a shameful role here in Poznan, as this ‘prize’ confirms,” said Dave Martin, Greenpeace Canada. “We now have just one year left to reach agreement on a strong global climate deal. Canada needs to stop blocking progress and finally start showing some leadership.”

At this writing (at half past midnight Poznan time) the meeting was still carrying on as delegates worked to resolve issues relating to an Adaptation Fund sought by developing countries to help them deal with the negative impacts of climate change, which tend to concentrate in the world’s poorest countries.


How about some coverage of Gore’s speech.  He’s decided its time to back Hansen and declare that the “science” has changed.  The Copenhagen treaty has been aiming for stabilizing the atmosphere at a level of greenhouse gas, somewhere around 450 ppm, that would result in global warming being limited to 2 degrees.  Gore is saying its got to be 350 ppm.  Hansen’s work has him saying 325 - 350 ppm, but Gore’s call is based on Hansen’s science. 

This isn’t like arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. 

People say what difference does it make, no one actually believes civilization is going to limit the damage to 450 ppm, so what is the point?  They think it just means their calls for action will be pushed further out into the wilderness because what they call for will have to become even more “unrealistic”. 

Consider this:  in England preWWII, it started to dawn on a few people that Hitler was rising in Germany, they were rearming, and they were getting ready for a big war.  The English were very disillusioned with their experience of WWI and it was going to be difficult to mobilize them for a total war effort yet again. 

So, a 450 ppm line then would have been lets ramp up our military capacity over the next 42 years and by then, even though our own experts are not unified on this, we’ll have the capacity to invade Europe defeat Hitler and live happily ever after. 

A 350 ppm line was Churchill’s line, and it eventually prevailed, because it is the only one that makes sense.  Hitler wasn’t going wait 42 years.  Churchill saw this and called out, from the wilderness, that England must prepare for mobilizing its entire resources to engage in all out war with Germany to defeat Hitler before he could invade England and destroy everything the English valued. 

It didn’t matter to Churchill that few could see England doing what he called for.  Even if England totally mobilized, many realized that wouldn’t be enough, America would be needed, and there were no guarantees getting them as allies.  Nevertheless, eventually people saw this was the only solution, and history unfolded.

I see Gore’s recognition that Hansen’s call for 325- 350 ppm is the right thing as the most significant piece of news to come out of Poznan.  There’s too much CO2 in the atmosphere already.  There’s no dangerous climate change of the future that we can save the planet from.  Its already coming at us, delayed by the tremendous size of the planetary system but neveretheless coming at us, “in the pipeline” already.  Action is more than ever required, as ever more dangerous thresholds are in the future.  But there’s no more of this we’ve got to reduce by % by certain dates and we’ll be “safe”.  its we’ve got to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, however we can, wherever we can, as soon as possible, or we lose everything we value.

Hill McKibben was in Poznan with Gore and it was McKibben who really spearheaded the push for 350. And bravo, too.

One of the most effective criticisms of Kyoto is that it’s pointless - woefully inadequate. Of course, the idiot deniers who said, “Why should we sacrifice our Exxon stock for a plan that won’t work?” never took the extrra step to ask, “What will work?”

McKibben asked and 350 is the answer - so while the rest of us are pleading, begging and crying for half measures, McKibben, Hnasen, and now Gore, are saying, “C’mon you guys> Get a clue.”

And, as I am, at this moment, sitting in a spectacular hotel in what used to be East Berlin, I am moved to think that the impossible doesn’t even take that long when you put things into context.

But, boy, we need a little courage - a little leadership - from people who think the world begins and ends with oil. (Stand up the Canadian Conservative caucus.) And soon …