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Leaving for Copenhagen

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It is the mad dash for Copenhagen.

I am leaving Montreal for the international summit tomorrow although the conference actually got underway yesterday. In between urgent emails over the weekend I found the time to take my 10-year-old daughter and two of her friends to see A Christmas Carol, a Geordie Theatre production of the Dickens classic. The play was great but it was hard to keep my mind off what was going on in Copenhagen -- plus Scrooge kept reminding me of Stephen Harper.

May the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future visit him in his sleep. May he be reminded continuously for the next two weeks -- and far beyond -- of his appalling record on climate change, his indifference to the suffering people are already living in countries where crops, livelihoods, homes and infrastructure are being destroyed by the ravages of climate change. May all Canadians read George Monbiot's article before the next election!

Stephen Harper last week had this to say about the conference:

"THE KEY TO ALL THIS IS NOT THE SETTING OF TARGETS. IT IS ACTUALLY THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TECHNOLOGY THAT OVER TIME WILL MAKE SIGNIFICANT TARGETS POSSIBLE."

These are the talking points we have been expecting from the Conservatives for some time. This government has its head stuck in the tar sands and there is no way it will agree to meaningful targets on carbon emissions (which would mean tackling the tar sands) or meaningful money for adaptation (which would mean stop pouring good money after bad in Afghanistan). A technofix is exactly what this government wants. Not only is it pouring hideous amounts of money into carbon capture and sequestration and biofuels, but -- we can anticipate that Canada, along with other governments will be championing a "Breakthrough on Technology" over the next two weeks. In fact, a "deal on technology" might look good for lots of people -- so we need to see what is behind that.

Unfortunately, if there is a breakthrough on technology it is likely to make a bad situation worse. The draft negotiating text make much ado about "enhancing action" on technology -- but the chain of command is "research, development, deployment, transfer, diffusion" with nary a pause to stop and evaluate whether or not a particular technology is appropriate -- or whether, like biofuels have proved to be -- it will have side effects like hunger, poverty, land grabs and rising food prices. That's why we (ETC Group) have worked to put together an international coalition of groups to call for assessment in the texts on technology. See Let's Look Before We Leap.

In Copenhagen we shall also be releasing two new reports -- one on geoengineering and one on "Who Feeds the World." Both of these reports are in final stages of production so everyone is madly multitasking and editing trying to get them ready.

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