In the face of those cataclysmic warnings, none of the 190 countries at Bali dared be the spoiler, preventing agreement on a road map for negotiations over the next two years to forge a new deal on fighting climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.It's never been more clear as it has been over the past week that the Harper government is right there on the international stage with the Bush administration. And decidedly not where most Canadians are. They've certainly gone on record with their environmental roadblock show for all of the voting public to see. You've got to wonder how this is going to play in the polls or whether it's already reflected in the consistent mid-30's ceiling against which Harper consistently finds his party cannot escape.
Which is not to say that a number of countries did not do their utmost to water down the pact to the point where all the tough decisions would be left for negotiators to try to hammer out. The United States, in particular, was so intransigent that as the talks came down to the wire, Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN climate change agency, left the conference stage in tears when the U.S. once more dug in its heels.
And although Canada in the end joined the other 37 wealthy countries that had ratified the Kyoto Protocol in accepting targets of 25 to 40 per cent for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, for most of the conference Environment Minister John Baird disgraced us all.
Right up to the final hours, Baird insisted that Canada would not accept any targets unless they were imposed on poor, developing countries, as well. Seen for what it was – a cynical attempt to undermine the chances for real progress at Bali – Baird's ploy invited scorn from all quarters, brought shame on all Canadians, and turned our country from a progressive voice on the world stage on environmental issues into an international pariah. At one point during the conference, de Boer portrayed Canada as a climate hypocrite. And at another, Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's climate science panel that shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Gore, castigated the Harper government, saying, "They do not want to do anything on climate change."
What a sorry, shameless spinner of an Environment Minister we have representing us on the world stage. Thankfully the conference is over so he can't do any more damage to our reputation than he's already done.