It was all about the climate this week. At three big climate conferences around the world, there was a tension missing from previous events. The climate is changing fast, and societies, economies and corporations can forget about business as usual. The issue no longer has shades of grey – it’s all fire-engine red.
In Madrid, the United Nations held a carbon-markets negotiating session at a site the size of a major airport. At the same time in Brussels, European Union leaders were bashing out a highly ambitious agreement to commit the world’s largest trading bloc to carbon-neutrality by 2050.
And in California, the annual convention of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest collection of Earth and space scientists, was presented with more troubling evidence that extreme weather events are not just freaks of nature; humanity’s paw prints are all over them.
Even Canada is buying into the narrative. A perennial carbon-reduction laggard – it has blown through every target it has set – Ottawa now plans to meet or exceed its 2030 reduction targets and is promising “net-zero” emissions by 2050.
In Madrid, Jonathan Wilkinson, the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, acknowledged that we’re in a “climate crisis.” If any environment minister had used those words during the oil sands-worshipping Stephen Harper era, he or she would have been busted down to minister of corner stores.