The editorial board of the National Post get it right...
This week’s Copenhagen summit was billed as the best, last chance for world leaders to finally rally their citizens to fight man-made global warming. They have failed: The main policy instrument being debated in the Denmark capital — a US$100-billion fund that the developed world will use to bribe the developing world to build windmills and solar panels — is a farce: Poor nations will simply take the money and turn up their air conditioners. After all, if rich nations such as Canada, China and the United States can’t be bothered to reduce their own carbon output, why would we expect the issue to become a priority in Sudan, Costa Rica or India, where per capita incomes are an order of magnitude lower than ours?
But the absurd policy being debated was only part of the problem in Copenhagen. Thanks to speechifying by a who’s who of dubious gurus, self-promoters and self-declared ‘activists” — a staple of international confabs these days — the event progressively took on the hypocrisy and surrealism of a UN Human Rights Council meeting, where the developed world meets to endure sermonizing from the likes of Cuba and Sudan.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who has revoked the licences of 34 radio stations this year and says he may give them to new owners who share his “socialist vision,” lectured the assembled leaders on the evils of capitalism — this, at the same time the developing countries are asking the capitalist West for a 12-digit “climate fund” on top of the usual aid.
Not to be outdone, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, an old-style African despot accused in a report last week of using “a brutal orchestrated campaign of rape and torture” to silence opponents, criticized richer countries for not following “the global rule of law.” Mr. Mugabe has no need to worry about Zimbabwe’s rate of emissions, because 30 years of his disastrous rule has devastated the economy and left it incapable of producing even enough food to feed itself.
On the other hand, who can blame Messrs. Mugabe and Chavez for their histrionics? Since Western leaders were willing to turn Copenhagen into one giant pay-the-poor-not-to-pollute bidding competition, it’s only natural that cynical prospective recipients would play on Western guilt to increase the size of the post-Copenhagn windfall.
Outside the conference itself, meanwhile, the scene was no more edifying. A mob of “activists” tried to storm the building, held off by police using tear gas and pepper spray. Violent protests of this sort largely disappeared after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 made anarchy unfashionable, but “progressives” evidently feel the time is right for a comeback. Three such activists in England managed to scale the Canadian High Commission and deface the Canadian flag, proudly sending out press releases to note their achievement.
Back home in Canada, David Suzuki favoured us with his opinion that stopping climate change is more important than jobs, more important than the economy, more important than the concerns of “rinky dink” countries — such as Canada, presumably — or the lifestyles of their citizens. Taking a cautious approach on emissions, he declared in a CBC interview, is akin to countenancing slavery — yes, slavery — because 19th-century types suggested that ending slavery, too, might hurt the economy too. Ergo, people who worry about their jobs are the equivalent of slaveowners.
Regardless of what self-congradulatory communiqué emanates from Copenhagen, the spectacle will have done little to rally ordinary people to the cause of fighting climate change. The debate over emissions is a complex one, stuffed with conflicting claims and data all but incomprehensible to the non-expert observer. In trying to sort out what’s true and what isn’t, Canadians could hardly be blamed if they took one look at the childish antics and fatuous posturing by those supporting large-scale economic experiments as a possible remedy, and concluded they wanted no part of it.