Monday, November 28, 2005

First post-Kyoto talks open amid gloom

The climate talks opening in Montreal today are the first chance the countries of the world have had to discuss the world's most pressing problem since the Kyoto Protocol was ratified.

But to look for a positive outcome is like listening for the first cuckoo of spring in January.

The host country's government, that of Paul Martin, the Liberal Prime Minister, looks set to collapse, making it likely that pro-targets Stephane Dion, the Canadian Environment Minister and conference chairman, will be replaced by an anti-targets Conservative after January.

(This in a country which only this month saw Ontario's government awarding C$2 billion (US$1.7 billion) in contracts to build wind and hydro power projects, to secure renewable electricity for 10 percent of Canada's biggest market. Next door, Quebec awarded C$1.9 billion for eight wind farms last year.)

To add to the gloom, the US has reiterated its anto-Kyoto stance, and many countries around the world face rising GGH emissions and missing what meagre targets they have.

But the talks are important. So much rests on them.

The forward-looking politicians have to encourage the ostriches to get their heads out of the oil shale, and lift them high to look further than the immediate scene.

Failing that they have to march ahead without them.

The present US administration is on its last legs. With any luck, a more co-operative and less blinkered one will follow.

Eevryone is worried about rising energy prices. This makes renewables more attractive.

Just as a junkie's cold need leads to the criminal underworld, the politics of oil leads us into the company of brutal regimes - let's mention Russia this time.

Renewables are or can be owned by everyone.

Maybe that's why the White House doesn't like them.

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