Monday, December 14, 2009

Contrasts

Britain's chief climate negotiator, Ed Miliband, secretary of state for energy and climate change gives an update, totally focussed on the issues, unlike Canada and our sideshow (more on that below):



More from the NY Times, engaging in a discussion with Miliband, to give you a sense of how Britain is approaching the talks:
A. There are two issues in this — whether countries stand behind their commitments — do countries make commitments which they are going to do? And I think there’s no doubt that China, when it says 40 to 45 percent reduction in energy intensity is serious about that. And then there is what kind of “M.R.V.” regime you have [M.R.V. is diplomatic shorthand for ways to insure that steps by countries are measurable, reportable and verifiable]. I think that must be bridgeable.

My biggest anxiety is about the ambition of the deal. That is the thing we need to work on. Europe wants to go to 30 percent reductions by 2020 on 1990. We’re currently at 20. But we need more ambition from others. We want to move the Australians, the Japanese toward the top end of their ranges. We went to see more action from China.

Q. You didn’t put the U.S. in that list.

A. There are two issues on the U.S. There are mitigation actions on emissions and the finance. Both pieces are important in judging the U.S. contribution. Clearly finance is a difficult thing for the U.S. but we think it’s an important part of an agreement. The task of the ministers in the next week is partly to get to a structure which is going to work. Partly the task of leaders is to drive up ambitions. My hope is that world leaders arriving here are not going to come with empty pockets, but are going to come with stuff to say. That’s certainly the intent of our prime minister. Britain is currently saying we’re going to have 34 percent reduction by 2020 on 1990 [emissions] as part of the E.U. commitment and he wants us to go to a higher number. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, as far as Canada is concerned, we're pretty much sitting in the sidecar to the U.S. efforts, and news is breaking of leaks of documents circulated to the Harper cabinet that would lessen our commitments, albeit those being draft documents.

And the Prime Minister's spokesman is putting out fires in Copenhagen, having to brush back spoofs of Canadian environmental policy and lashing out at environmental organizations. Mr. Soudas should apologize to the p.r. damage caused to Equiterre now that the real pranksters have come forward. Behold the inappropriate exchange that a PMO should never engage in but apparently we must put up with:
Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is coordinating the government's communications strategy here at the conference, initially lashed out at Steven Guilbeault, cofounder of Quebec-based Equiterre, of masterminding the stunt.

"Mr. Guilbeault clearly indicated that he is not the source of this spoof. Neither is Equiterre," the environmental group said later in a statement. "It is shameful that Office of the Prime Minister is making such accusations without any proof. Mr. Guilbeault and Equiterre are asking Dimitri Soudas to retract his accusations and to present his excuses."

Prior to that the two men got into a screaming match outside the Canadian delegation's officers in the Bella Center, where the conference is being held.

"I'm scandalized," Guilbeault said. "I demand an apology."

Soudas refused.

"You guys only came here to criticize Canada's position," he said in front of a crowd of reporters.
It's quite the thing for the Prime Minister's office to be publicly and inappropriately engaging in such unfounded battles with environmentalists rather than working professionally together on the world stage. We deserve much better than that. If this is Soudas laying the groundwork for Harper's arrival in Copenhagen, he's off to a pretty dismal start.