Nova Scotian activists return home from the Copenhagen climate conference with one adjective in their hearts: disappointed.
Thea Whitman, a Kings County member of the Canadian Youth Delegation, is distressed that so little has resulted from 15 years of conferences. "While the Copenhagen Accord cites a goal of limiting warming to two degrees," she says, "the actions pledged by all countries virtually guarantee that we will bypass this goal."
"We still don't have a fair, ambitious and binding treaty," concurs Emily Rideout, who represented Sierra Club at the conference. "Developed countries have blocked progress to such an extent that a collective failure was inevitable." She adds that a lot of hope was misplaced in US president Barack Obama, who was booed by NGO reps during his "lukewarm" speech.
Claire Campbell, a history prof at Dalhousie's College of Sustainability, is also disappointed by "the lack of a comprehensive, enforceable, effective treaty." But she is not surprised. "Consider the historical dimension to this: we have relatively little experience in successful transnational governance, and very little when it comes to environmental issues."
All three hold stubborn hope for the future. "The climate movement is growing," Whitman says, "to the point where it will one day not even be called a movement, but rather be the new way of seeing the world."
"I'm confident we can get a deal by June at one of the intercessional meetings or at the latest in Mexico City at COP16," adds Rideout.
Campbell sees hope outside the meetings: "For every conversation mired in molasses at the Bella Centre, there was one coloured by energy and action somewhere else in the city." —Chris Benjamin