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COP 15, Dr. Suess Style

23 Dec

A very interesting reflection on what happened in Copenhagen. Check it out! You will laugh and cry…

Dr. Seuss\’s Copenhagen by Marcus Brigstocke


Are they for real?

14 Dec

After claiming that a 3% emissions reductions from 1990 level was comparable and ambitious, the Canadian delegation issued a press release today claiming that they have been working on a plan, “Agenda 2020”. The new plan rises the original targets to a 40% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 and at least an 80% reduction by 2050. A significant turn around from Canada’s original position.
In addition, Canada has also committed to a new instrument, known as the “Climate Debt Mechanism” (CDM). Canada has now committed to the much-needed funding to those developing countries facing the most dire consequences of climate change. CDM payments will begin with 1% and rise to the equivalent of 5% of Canada’s GDP annually by 2030.

UNFORTUNATELY…..this was a fake. The Government of Canada released a press release stating a spoof press release targeted Canada in order to generate hurtful rumors and mislead the Conference of Parties on Canada’s positions on climate change, and to damage Canada’s standing with the international business community.

The spoof release, from “,” alleges Canada’s acceptance of unrealistic emissions-reduction targets, as well as a so-called “Climate Debt Mechanism,” a bilateral agreement between Canada and Africa to furnish that continent with enormous sums in “reparation” for climate damage and to “offset” adaptation.

When reading through this sequence of press releases, we all though “oh my god! Is Canada for real? I can’t believe they would be setting such high targets after advocating for the tar sands and their “ambitious” 3% reductions targets”. After reading the second press release, actually by Environment Canada, it felt like it was somewhat expected to be a hoax.

Fake Press release:

Real Environment Canada release:

AWG – LCA Opening Plenary

7 Dec

At COP15, the AWG-LCA plans to complete work on 3 main topics:

  • financial capacity building
  • actions items, primarily adaptation and mitigation
  • a shared vision

The opening plenary provided the opportunity for different nation groups to voice their opinions on the work planned for the conference. Sudan, on behalf of the G77 and China, called for immediate implementation of finanacing and resources  for adaptation and mitigation by developing countries and want to see an open and transparent process. This message was supported by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group. AOSIS however, made it clear that they will not accept any agreement that is hinged on only short term funding.  Australia, on behalf of the Umbrella Group (this includes Canada) claimed they were prepared to set legally binding targets in Copenhagen (I hope this is in fact true). They also committ to providing $10 billion a year to developing countries (especially those of the LDC group) in order for them to continue growing in a sustainable manner. Sweden, on behalf of the EU and member countries, spoke of an effective agreement with real numbers including an emission reduction target of 30% by 2020 based on 1990 levels and to cut deforestation by 50% by 2020 and net zero by 2030. They also suggested that all countries help to provide funding with the exception of the LDC group.  This group was the only one to put forward a number of measurable targets to curb climate change. Switzerland, on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group, outlined a few financing mechanisms that they were ready to develop on order to support developing nations. Algeria, on behalf of the Africa Group, was very specific that they want a new agreement, not sections of the Kyoto Accord copied, pasted and renegotiated. They want to see concrete arrangements for technology transfer to developing countries and are tired of unbalanced negotiations on adaptation and finance.

We’ll see how all of this plays out over the next two weeks and strongly hope that Canada will not take home the infamous fossil award for being the country that slows down negotiations.

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

7 Dec

Not five minutes ago, Sarah, Alice, Olivia, Emily, Sylvie, and I walked out of our first conference event. Held by both UNICEF and the FAO, the Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges session welcomed ambassadors from the Children’s Climate Forum – mostly young children from developing countries –  such as South Africa, Zambia, Haiti, Bangladesh, Kenya, Maldives, and Senegal – to speak about issues regarding climate change. It is amazing how children can put things so simply and effectively. It is amazing how children are making decisions that their parents and elders do not make.

The children were asked to identify barriers they face in their home country and bridges they can build to overcome them. Here’s a sample:

  • Barrier: ignorance
  • Bridge: show the impacts climate change is having at home.
  • Barrier: failure to listen to children
  • Bridge: provide opportunities for youth to speak out such as the Children’s Climate Forum

The children were also asked about what role music can play for fighting climate change. Answers spoke of music as a universal language, able to cross borders with ease and unite different cultures. Additionally, music can be the dissemination of information through entertainment as opposed to through sources like speeches or documents and thus, has the ability to reach more people. On a side note, it was said that planting trees in African countries have purpose aside from those environmental – they provide shade, and through this they act as a gathering place as people escape the heat of the sun. People are united through the natural environment.

How we can change the mentality of adults was another question asked. It was suggested that people be shown the changes that have occured in their own country as a result of climate change. What existed at a time past that is no longer there? Show that this river has trickled to a stream. Then show people how to reverse the effect or prevent it from happening again.

The youth ambassador from Maldives brought us some interesting news as well that we had not yet heard. This small developing country of 300,000 people is striving to become the first carbon neutral country in the world, and while this represents a very small portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it also represents a huge step and shines as an example of what a (developing) country can do.

There is no global action without local action. A take-home message in this session was to respect commitments, no matter what size. Humans take steps.

The quote of the day has to go to the ambassador for Angelique Kidjo of Cape Town, the ambassador for UNICEF, who said, “YOU CAN’T MAKE MONEY WITHOUT THE EARTH”. Simple, effective, 100% truth.

All in all, planting trees was a repeated idea of this session. In Canada, we take trees for granted. Trees are nice to look at. They are pretty to walk beside. We often forget about their ecological function and how important they really are. Trees can absorb water and therefore minimize the impacts of floods  and decrease risk of landslides. Trees (such as mangrove forests) act as barriers from intense winds, tsnuamis and other severe storms induced by climate change. Trees improve soil conditions enabling farmers to feed the word. Trees absorb carbon dioxide improve air quality for all to breathe. The list goes on. One simple act of planting trees goes a long way. Let’s not forget that.

IN REFLECTION, here are some issues to consider:

  • Transgenerational communication and values
  • Human desire to share experiences (e.g. childhood): “I am only seeing fragments of the beauty of my country”
  • Immigration issue where people go, where they choose to go, and if they have the choice to leave

Again, we  see how social and environmental issues are parallel.

– Tyler, Sarah & Alice

Now THAT’s Leadership!!!

16 Nov

This is where the EU stands on Copenhagen:

  • Aspires to play “leading role at Copenhagen
  • Will cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30% if other big emitters take tough action
  • Wants rich nations to make 80-95% cut by 2050
  • Wants poorer nations to slow emissions growth
  • Says they face costs of $150bn per year by 2020, of which EU will pay $7bn-22bn from public finances
  • The world’s third-biggest GHG producer (11.8% of global emissions, 4,641mt CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 17th in the world (9t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $18.3tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 315t
  • Kyoto: Signed – has to get average emissions for 2008-2012 8% below 1990 level

Lets hope that the EU really does act as the leader and knocks some sense into Canada, the US, China, India, and the Gulf States. Currently it’s 5 against 1…

350 Rally in Waterloo

6 Nov

350 CAGOn October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action, about 100 concerned students and other Waterloo locals gathered outside the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo to voice their requests for Waterloo’s MP, Peter Braid, to support action on bringing the world’s carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million. Just one of many similar rallies across the world, the greater goal was to urge politicians to act for the environment at the upcoming COP 15 United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen (to which a number of UWSP’s executive board will be headed). 

After meeting at the Clay and Glass Gallery, the 100 strong crowd marched straight to Peter Braid’s office with a letter outlining their concerns. Byron Williston, a philosophy professor from Wilfred Laurier University, and Jean-Michel Toriel of ForestEthics were on hand to speak about the issues at hand. Williston laid out plainly, one of the major issues:

“We just don’t naturally think about people who are going to be alive 100 years from now. That’s the trick. That’s the ethical challenge.”

Ain’t it just so? Now…why is that there were no experts from the University of Waterloo on hand to speak? 

More at:

– Tyler

The Possible Aftermath of COP – 15

5 Nov

tb_copenhagen_denmarkThis triplet of scenarios has made it’s way through the tubes already, beginning with Reuters and then to Treehugger, but its worth giving some thought, so I will write it again. What we’re looking at, are three possible outcomes of the COP – 15 Climate talks. Some of these are more likely outcomes than others, but all are possibilities nonetheless. So, after December 19th, we can expect one of three things:

  1. A broad international agreement – Given that the United States actually signs a climate bill by December, which includes targets for 2020 and funding to help developing countries reach their targets. This would be fantastic, as it would urge developing countries to meet target reductions. Sadly, this appears to be very wishful thinking.
  2. Figure it out later – Lets say the US doesn’t get any Climate bill through the process until early 2010. In this situation, they begin making a case to form agreements at the next scheduled climate agreement talks in Germany in June 2010. If this is the likely case, developing countries will hopefully use the time in Copenhagen to make agreements that are conditional upon the  promises of the United States. 
  3. No Climate Bill in US Senate – If the US senate does not pass the climate bill, there is a possibility that other countries will go ahead with making commitments in hopes that the US will finally fall in. Will it? Won’t it? 

I honestly have no idea what will happen at this conference. But I’m hoping for the best. And will be happy with the second best. My fingers are crossed. Whatever the United States does, its highly likely that Canada will follow in its step. 

– Tyler