Interesting commentary on 6 Dec 2005 from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s journalist Rex Murphy who says, “Perhaps Kyoto is Japanese for hypocrisy.”:
REX MURPHY (Commentator): It’s been a strange week. I’ve been wondering why the global warming conference in Montreal is getting relatively little attention. Probably because of the cold weather. It’s odd for another reason. Ten thousand people have come to Montreal, ten thousand. For a conference on reducing energy consumption. Now, ten thousand is a large number, elephantine, in fact. I don’t suppose many delegates walked. As conferences go, this one is a real Leviathan. Just think of the Montreal summit’s ecological footprint.
Is there really a need to fly ten thousand people from 189 countries to a cold city to exchange ideas? Is there no e-mail? Are the phone lines down? Does no one own a Blackberry? Well, I suppose in this matter, ecology is not really different from politics. High on sermons, low on example. Maybe it’s low-key because the celebrity attendance is sparse. There are not many rock stars there. What’s an environmental summit without rock stars? Are they all worn out after making poverty history? That was their summer project, remember.
But still, where’s Bono? Is he still crushed, or in some sulk from his disappointment with Paul Martin? I’m not sure anymore that Canada is allowed to take on international commitments unless it’s alright with Bono. Canada used to be an independent country. Now we’re just part of an entourage.
There was a Canadian Press Report from Montreal whose lead sentence could have come straight out of Alice in Wonderland. It read “Tens of thousands of people ignored frigid temperatures Saturday to lead a worldwide day of protest against global warming.” Wearing earmuffs while chanting, “It’s getting hot in here” might be homage to Nellie, but it’s not effective salesmanship.
At the same demonstration on that brutally cold day, one of the Greenpeace high priests offered a brilliant synopsis of how comprehensively the concept of global warming applies. He said, and I quote, “Global warming can mean colder; it can mean dryer; it can mean wetter.” Well, if warm can mean cold, if warm can mean wet, and if warm can mean dry, is it fair to ask if warm still means warm? This is the beauty of global warming. It’s a theory that covers every possibility. More of a tent than a thesis.
The bigger disconnect at this monster seminar goes further than rhetoric, however. It’s that Canada’s the host of this sequel to Kyoto, and that Canada’s performance since Kyoto – and remember, we signed on – is at this date, 24 percent higher than our 1990 levels. According to our commitment, we’re aiming for six percent lower. So as of 2005, there’s a 30 percent spread from what we’ve promised and what we’ve done so far. The U.S., which didn’t sign on, is only thirteen percent higher than its 1990 levels. Still, around the world, the U.S. is the villain for not signing on, while countries like ours, who talk a virtuous environmental line and host King-Kong-scale conferences to celebrate our commitment, pose as the planet’s dearest lovers.
Perhaps Kyoto is Japanese for hypocrisy.
For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.