Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Looking at COP

January 12, 2010

A video from a UK delegate that explains it all… Thanks Tom.

Some other stories…


Synopsis of COP Closing

December 20, 2009

Here is a video with several opinions (pretty well all on the no deal side) of their overall view regarding the results of the summit:

“Yes We Can”

December 20, 2009

While the context of the video may not be as relevant, the messages that come across are.  See past the people and groups presented in the video and embrace its meaning.  I hope you’ll find it a source of inspiration.

Next steps in Canada…

December 20, 2009

Regarding the conference…

While we have had unprecedented numbers of participants, observers, heads of state, and collaborative efforts at this historic conference, there is still a lot of work we can take back home.  There are several key points we need to push:

  • Maximum warming at 1.5 degrees celsius, 350 ppm CO2
  • Legally binding, with clear penalties and actual enforcement mechanisms
  • Clear financing mechanisms put in place, including contributions and distribution methods
  • Targets need to be ambitious and approved by all parties (regardless if the targets are set by the international group or individual countries)
  • Clear, common but differentiated responsibilities need to be described for both developed and developing nations
  • In the case of other mechanisms, such as REDD or REDD plus, LULUCF, etc. the locals need to be considered and deeply involved in the process (this includes giving indigenous peoples the responsibility to be stewards of the land as they always have been)
  • Keeping the two-track process, preserving the KP and renewing a commitment period to 2020 (and beyond)

Provisions for dealing with issues such as influxes in  migrant environmental refugees, decreasing food sources, etc. were not openly discussed in a constructive manner at these conferences (these issues were brought up as evidence rather than as issues to be considering), probably because they are not directly relevant to the discussions of the KP or Convention.  They are however important issues to be concerned with as we can foresee complications like these arising in the near future regardless of any deal (or lack thereof).  Additionally, we need to decrease loopholes in items such as the CDM/Carbon Cap and Trade.  Realistic targets and limits which will directly address the climate crisis on both short and long-term bases within a clear and comprehensive text is what we need to focus on.

 Back in Canada

There are a number of things people back home can do, whether they’re part of a larger network/organization or not:

  • Educate each other based on hard facts, and look through the arguments of each side to assess the validity of each one’s evidence.
  • Empower those who are normally unable to be involved, and help those who are usually ignored to have a louder voice.
  • Fight to shut down the tar sands on a basis (as the sands slowly close, a new industry or industries will have to rise in order to take its place).
  • Encourage authorities to be more publicly inclusive and transparent.
  • Become aware of the injustices in your own region and strive to set them right (i.e. first nations rights, water issues, social injustices, corporate ownership, pollution, habitat and wildlife issues, etc).
  • Read the platforms of all parties before you vote, and if possible, tune into some debates and read up on what the candidate represents.  You may be surprised at how much more or less a party may actually represent your values than you originally thought.
  • To better understand an issue, make a point of meeting the people who are, have been, or will be affected by an injustice.  There’s nothing more real than experiencing it first hand, or at least befriending someone who does.

My final plan is what I call the Cross Canada Mobilization Strategy, which will basically give a voice to Canadians in every province and territory.  The Harper administration will have two chances, once to look over the document that will then be submitted, and a second to meet with each region’s representatives to discuss compromises.  After this point, if no agreement is found and Harper is still in office, efforts will be made to have him replaced.  Hopefully it does not need to get to this point.

During one of our actions (before getting kicked out of the Bella Center) we all walked around with signs taped on our backs.  Thus, I quote, “Canada: follow, lead, or go home.”

Thank You Chief Atleo

December 20, 2009

At the book launch a few nights ago I was honoured to be acquainted with Regional Chief Shawn Atleo (Assembly of First Nations).  There was one conversation we had about the tar sands project in Alberta, during which Shawn asked if he could hold me accountable for single-handedly taking down the tar sands.  He hardly allowed me to make any excuses and asked, “Do we have an accord?”  Smiling, we shook hands in a generally amusing and not-so serious agreement.  My first comment was “if only it was this easy in the conference.”  After some time and a few more conversations, I began to reflect on that conversation and what it meant to me.  While I may not be able to single-handedly take down the tar sands, there are things that I and we can do, things that I will pursue.

There is still some reflecting to be done, but I have met enough people to know that the issues are real, urgent, and a matter of survival.  Enough of our world is at the tipping point.  From a systems point of view, the economics, environment, and social justice in many respects of the world are in various stages of conservation and in some cases, release.  It’s time to completely shift our ways of doing things, to renew the cycle in a more mutually beneficial and respectful manner.  The next few years is the only time to do this.  We don’t have a choice.

A Note on Obama’s Announcement

December 20, 2009

Here is the link to the press conference where Obama announced the agreement that had been formed that day:

Many people, specifically the kicked-out civil society who watched from the NGO centre, were angered – even devastated – by the announcement he made.  While the deal is not ideal, we have to remember that it will still be revised and strengthened into the Bonn conference in March, and there is still time to finalize and improve the initial accord with the hope that a legally binding agreement will be developed at COP16 in Mexico.  Something Yvo de Boer said in one of the side events is that we should not have trust in our negotiators or leaders unless they’ve earned it.  While some of the most prominent negotiating parties are in my opinion not trustworthy, there are those I am comfortable putting my faith in.  Tuvalu, for example, and the Maldives, and some other AOSIS,  African, and LDC nations.  These countries are already being affected and will continue to suffer until their regions are no longer habitable.  Even then, in the words of Maldivian President Nasheed, they “will continue to fight until the end”.  I am sure that even there is an end in sight (although I desperately hope that a REAL deal comes forward in the next year), there will be those who will continue fighting hard for those who no longer can.

So while the outcome is not the one we wanted, I do not believe we can conceive it as a real failure.  We must take it with a grain of salt, considering that there are those who will continue meaningful work on the issues and that, with continued pressure, our voices will not only be heard but considered and obeyed by those who were put in a position to serve the society we represent.  True, Obama was elected on the promise of creating a change, and I believe that he made a genuine effort to create at least an acceptable accord despite the two weeks of bad politics that preceded the final 48 hours.  We all have to remember that no matter what the individual in power stands for, a society like ours means that there is always an institution that the figurehead needs to answer to.  In the cases of both Canada and the US there are systemic pressures and practices that have been in place long before either of our recent elected officials had been there.  As such, it will take many offices of similar paradigms to create a positive, more socially reflective system.  The only real (democratic) option for a change drastic enough to mitigate the effects of our climate crisis is a change in the minds of whole societies which must be united in voice and in force.  As Elizabeth May said on the topic of observers’ high expectations of Obama, “Obama may be Obama, but we all have to remember that the US is still the US.”

Some Canadian Reading…

December 20, 2009

(From Email)

Here are a couple of news stories the Council of Canadians and allies were able to generate in Canadian media related to climate justice.”

The Ottawa Citizen, “Why we took to the streets: Inaction from business interests and political leaders in Copenhagen has forced the rebirth of the movement founded in Seattle,” Op-ed by Andrea Harden-Donahue and Maude Barlow (text copied below)
The Toronto Star, “Gloom and Fury grips Copenhagen,”–gloom-and-fury-grip-copenhagen
Democracy Now, “Indigenous Peoples of Canada March on Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen to Protest the tar sands,”
“Climate deal remains elusive as clock tics away in Copenhagen: Protestors threatened with dogs, Canadian activist says”
The National Post, “Canadian Activist Criticizes Police Tactics,”
IPS, “Canada’s “Mordor” Ensures Cliamte Treaty Failure,”
IPS “Climate Change: No water in Copenhagen Talks,”
Telegraph, UK, “Oil firms attacked for tar sands pollution,” Internationalist, “Death by a thousands cuts,” 

Dec. 19, ’09: The Copenhagen Accord

December 19, 2009

At roughly 5:45 am this morning:

While a handful of very significant nations were involved in the drafting of the initial Copenhagen Accord, the other ~190 countries knew nothing of its contents until very early this morning (ironic since one of the pillars of this accord is transparency).  After having a few hours to review and consider the text, most nations agreed that it was important to at least take this step so that there would be something to build upon at COP15.5 in Bonn (March) and hopefully to finalize at COP16 in Mexico.

Read the following one-page article for a decent summary:,28804,1929071_1929070_1948974,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Today’s Press Conference:

A press conference was held this morning to announce the results of the climate summit.  The following is a summary of points on the new Copenhagen Accord:

  • Significant: maximum warming (2 degrees), commitment from developed countries, engagement of developing countries, indication of significant short/long-term financing, new mechanisms for technology and forestry issues
  • But: not legally binding, does not pin industrialized nations to individual targets (countries’ self-made targets are due to be annexed by January 31), does not specify responsibilities of major developing nations (i.e. China, India), does not clearly define how the $30 Billion (out of the $200 B that is really required) is to be divided between the contributors

“…It is politically incredibly significant… But at the same time you have to recognize that what this has put in place is a letter of intent… but not in precise legal terms… and that means we have a lot of work to do on the road to Mexico.” – Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary UNFCCC

To view the press release, go to the following link:

The Copenhagen Accord

To review the accord itself (6 pages), click here:

All the documents that came out of this COP/CMP/climate summit can be viewed at

Draft Accord

December 18, 2009

Only other “good” thing is the call for 50% reduction by 2050 (base year TBD by each nation?  Yay Canada)… Here is a copy of the draft text:

Note that the review/implementation deadline is 5 years from now in 2016, and that implementation is up to the internal institutions of each nation.  We’ll see what comes out of this in the coming year and the voting tomorrow.  For my fellow Canadians (and sensible people everywhere), we know what we have to push for: legally binding agreement, before 2016, 80% reductions by 2050 with a base year of 1990,  a slow decline in tar sands activity (to nill), etc… Yep… Over the next few years we’ll be deeply ‘underemployed’.

Press Conference Results

December 18, 2009

11:10 pm.  The following is a summary of the press conference with President Obama reporting on any progress made regarding a tentative agreement (to be voted on tomorrow morning):

  • Financing, mitigation, transparency are key pillars
  • Final vote has not been done (tomorrow)
  • China, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Brazil, US key players; all but Ethiopia had a meeting to finalize the drafted agreement
  • Max. warming 2 degrees
  • Keeps saying “actions”, but what kind?
  • Engagement of all nations equally
  • Renewable energy development part of developing clean economy
  • Each nation will put their own intentions regarding emission cuts into an appendix, to be subject to international analysis; not legally binding but voluntary, however precise reporting is expected
  • Targets are not sufficient on their own, hence this is a “first step”
  • Challenge for emerging countries in transition as this is the first time they offer mitigation targets
  • Example: US sets its own goals passed through its own house; will not be legally bound by an agreement but will reaffirm its commitment by its own actions (internally)
  • Claims the US entered with a “clean slate” since it was mostly on the sidelines
  • Common but differentiated responsibilities; everyone has to take responsibility, including those countries who need to be aware of their carbon output despite their need to develop (with financing mechanism in place)
  • More work and confidence/trust building between developed and developing nations before a binding treaty can be formed (apparently the US is in favour of a legally binding agreement despite all the internal action)
  • “Science indicates we are going to have to take more aggressive steps in the future”: but how far into the future?
  • This agreement is partially a starter for innovation, and tech breakthroughs are needed for real development, but we can start on what we have (which is the efficiency issue)

So…. basically the only things they have drafted, still to be voted on, are:

  • Maximum 2 degrees of warming
  • Financing mechanisms need to be put in place
  • Transparency and mitigation are important in the process
  • Each nation will annex its own targets
  • Common but differentiated responsibilities
  • Not legally binding, but rather a first step towards more ambitious actions and possible binding agreements in the (indefinite) future

11:30 pm

…And Obama has flown off with the Air Force One.  So basically the agreement is no real agreement. I’ll admit, while it’s not a great outcome, at least it’s not a terrible accord.  Tomorrow I’ll probably visit Sweden, and in the evening I’ll report on the vote. Summaries of the whole conference, including the COP, CMP, and Climate Summit, to be reported on sometime next week.

“Minute by minute coverage”: