"It may be difficult, but it is wise, it is necessary, and it is doable." This is the prognosis for success in forging an ambitious, fair, and legally-binding agreement at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December from the Danish climate minister (yes, Denmark actually has a minister dedicated to the twin issues of global warming and energy).
Danish Minister Connie Hedegaard delivered this message to countries meeting in Bangkok for the next two weeks to discuss what, as host of December's summit, she would like to see in that final agreement. It is inspiring to see political leaders not only fundamentally understand what is being discussed but actively trying to move the climate change talks closer to a strong conclusion. Minister Hedegaard has concluded that the onus is on rich countries to break the deadlock, by delivering deeper emission cuts for themselves and support for poor countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change and curb their own emissions. A commitment by industrialized countries to collectively reduce their emissions by 2020 in line with the best climate science has to happen in Bangkok.
Technological and financial support for developing countries is also needed for a fair deal in Copenhagen, and Minister Hedegaard urged her rich allies and neighbours to deliver it. She described the upcoming discussions in Bangkok as "a window of opportunity" that might close any day.
Prime Minister Harper, meanwhile, told Canadians that "we should not view [the Copenhagen summit] as a make or break on climate change. It will be a step, an ongoing step." In other words, the December 2009 deadline that 192 countries, including Canada, agreed to two years ago is meaningless for Canada's Prime Minister.
On difficult but necessary action, some leaders inspire, some go to Tim Horton's for a photo op.
[This blog first appeared on the Vancouver Sun's Community of Interest blog.]