The last day - Moving on from Copenhagen
Today is the last day of the UN climate change conference here in Copenhagen. Shortly into the evening, or into the wee hours of the morning, we'll get news what, if anything was accomplished at this conference, and the spin that world leaders, NGOs, and the press will be pushing forward about the meaning of these last two weeks.
Perhaps once the whirlwind and the glamour of the conference has wrapped up, and the Bella Centre in Copenhagen quietly empties, we'll realize the long-term effects of this conference had for the future of our climate, and whether indeed Copenhagen will be known as the moment where the world finally got its act together, or failed miserably and doomed many populations to disaster, both now and in the future.
Today, the mood amongst the Canadian Youth Delegation has been a sombre one based on the progress of the negotiations. Harper's disappearing act, and his decision not to address the UN plenary has also been disappointing.
“By not addressing the Assembly, by not being chosen to meet with President Obama, and by not being selected to participate in a late-night discussion amongst the thirty most important countries of the world, the Canadian government has lost its credibility on the world stage,” said Rhiya Trivedi, a youth delegate who has been intensely tracking the policy developments.
In action planned today to coincide with Canada winning the 'Colossal Fossil' award, Canadian youth held up signs declaring "there is no more time for Tim Hortons, we need climate leadership," referring to the the first time the UN General Assembly convened to address climate change in September, and Harper instead attended a photo shoot at a Tim Hortons.
Gillian Cerbu, another youth delegate explained, “This action is meant to highlight the Harper government’s lackadaisical attitude towards global warming and lack of badly needed leadership in moving forward on a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate treaty.”
Regardless of the outcome, there have been a lot of personal triumphs for the youth here in Copenhagen, both Canadian youth and international youth. Many were able to give voice in these negotiations for the first time in a very big way, where often there voices are marginalized or shut out of a process that ultimately determines the world that they will be living in.
One thing I know for sure, is that the work does not end here. It's already clear that whatever comes out of Copenhagen certainly will not be enough, or will inevitably be a weak political agreement. Whether there will be more interim conferences scheduled for next year, or if COP16 in Mexico City will have the same urgency as Copenhagen, climate change needs to continue to be an issue on the table and at the front of mind of all Canadians. Canada especially, has taken a hit at these negotiations, called the #1 climate criminal in international newspapers and global commentators. I can only hope that moving forward, not only can we be proud of the climate policy we put forward, but that our image as a cooperative and friendly nation can be restored.