Will Copenhagen — the climate meeting — soon become synonymous with disappointment? With betrayal, greed and selfishness? With looming catastrophe?
If so, it will be a real shame. Because Denmark is doing so many things right. Indeed, if I were Copenhagen, I would call off these talks, because they are likely going to lead to nothing but heartache and a worse-than-nothing agreement, if we stay on the same path. For example, how can Obama only pledge to return US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 when the European Union has its sights on 20% below 1990 levels or more? And when the future needs us to get to zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible? Sheesh.
In the Globe and Mail's "Denmark Makes You Green with Envy" by Gary Mason, we learn that ... well, I think I'll just leave you with some excerpts, and the suggestion that you do all you can to encourage your national leaders and negotiators to please, please put the children — and not the economy — at the centre of their talks and decisions.
While much of the world talks about the problem, the Danes are finding solutions..
...You don't need to spend much time in the Danish capital to realize how seriously the people here take climate change. It is probably no coincidence that the next big important conference on the issue will be held in Copenhagen in December.
While much of the world talks about the problem, the Danes are finding solutions.
How about this stat: The Danes use about the same amount of energy today as they did in 1980. But over that same period of time, the country's economy has grown by 70 per cent. A tighter focus shows that from 1990 to 2007, economic activity in Denmark grew by 45 per cent while carbon-dioxide emissions were reduced by more than 13 per cent.
Denmark has become synonymous with wind energy. It accounts for 20 per cent of the power generated in the country. Now, the Danes are selling the technology throughout the world and getting rich doing it. The biggest wind-turbine manufacturer in the world, the Danish giant Vestas, can't fill orders from China and India fast enough. Danish exports of energy technology stood at about $13-billion in 2007.
... Fifty-five per cent of people living in Copenhagen (population 550,000) ride their bikes to work every day. City officials have estimated that people cycle 1.2 million kilometres, seven days a week. That's 30 times around the world every day. No wonder you can't find a fat person anywhere.
Denmark is the most energy-efficient country in Europe. By 2020, 30 per cent of its energy supply will come from renewable sources. All household waste is incinerated to generate heat and power. In Canada, incineration still conjures up images of the technology that hasn't existed in decades.
...Of course, the focus on reducing CO2 emissions had to have come at a brutal cost to the economy. At least, that is what's supposed to happen, isn't it? Somehow it didn't here. Denmark has one of the strongest economies in the European Union. Unemployment is 3.7 per cent. You read that right.
Danish politicians are different too. They're not afraid to impose taxes to discourage people from driving their cars. A litre of gas costs twice what it does in Canada. Almost half of the cost is tax, which the government collects and uses, in part, to help fund green innovation research.
...I could go on, but I'm sure you're sick of hearing about the virtuous Danes. In any case, the greenest country on the planet doesn't really care if you're applauding. The people here figure you'll be joining them soon enough. They're just getting a head start.
By the way, happy Blog Action Day 2009. It's devoted to climate change this year, and Compassionate Climate Action has joined with thousands of other blogs and bloggers around the world today to focus attention on this issue.