Billed long in advance as mankind’s last great opportunity to save the planet, the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen has been destroyed by the very people who say they most wanted it to succeed.
The international community of environmental pressure groups will blame everyone but themselves when this summit flames itself out, but it was not the official delegates — not even the Canadian delegation, horns, hoofs and all — that brought the process to its meaningless end.
It was groups like Greenpeace, who sought more to vilify its enemies than find a workable deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And for politicians eager to score points among voters in their own countries. For them, this wasn’t about saving the planet, but about painting the Alberta tarsands as the sole destroyer of this Earth.
At first, the reports from Copenhagen badmouthing Canada on the world stage seemed more like news being manufactured for consumption by Canadians. Things like this often happen; our collective sense of guilt makes them better read than stories about a middle power with not much global influence saying “me too!” while the big boys work their deals.
But as the days wore on and the stories became more outrageous (how many Fossil Awards does that make now? How many fake announcements?), it became clear the protest groups were just there for a good time.
When developing nations began to boycott working sessions because they didn’t like some of the proposals from developed nations, many took pains to specifically blame Canada.
By then, it became clear that even delegates were no longer interested in finding workable solutions either — and evil Canada became an expedient escape route.
Because protest groups are so much better at getting headlines than delegates arguing the fine print of an agreement, the only news that would be consumed in reports around the world would be that which is managed and manipulated by the protest groups.
Unfortunately, these groups are showing little interest in achieving a widely-accepted and workable agreement on greenhouse gas reduction.
Developing countries understand the need to preserve their own economies, while they cope with the effects of global warming. That’s accepted.
It is also accepted that the United States will do what it can to achieve climate change goals, without turning its economic recession into something worse. That’s all fine.
But nothing short of public flogging and the ruin of its economy will be acceptable for Canada.
The protesters who burned planeloads of jet fuel going to Copenhagen don’t like the one-10th of one per cent of greenhouse emissions the tarsands contribute to the global carbon footprint. And they don’t care that China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s top polluter, and is opening coal-fired power plants at a rate of two a week for the next two years.
OK, so let’s shut the tarsands down. We’ll see how much better they’ll like the world’s second-largest oil reserve during the widely-predicted energy crunch of 2014 — at $150 a barrel.
The truth is, mining the tarsands is a dirty business. But it’s being done in a country that understands and employs best practices, and which will make quick use of any efficiency its considerable knowledge of the technology can provide.
It’s being done in a country that takes international insult personally, and which is generally too polite to respond in kind.
The protesters have shown their colour — and it is not green. Their machinations wrecked what we’ve all been told is our last chance to do the right thing for our planet.
It remains now for reasonable people to do the right thing on their own, and to convince governments that we understand the world does not belong to us, but to those who come after us.
We know our obligations, and they are not to appease Greenpeace and their ilk.
Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.