In yet another publicity stunt (given far more prominence than it deserves, as might be expected from the enviro-activist cheering CBC), a number of oh-so-concerned environmental advocacy groups and “think tanks” decided to hold a day of website darkness in protest (of course) against provisions of the Canadian government’s proposed budget bill.
The latest headline (as of this writing) on the CBC site: “Website blackout in free speech fight against budget bill”. The subhead (in much smaller print) reads: “10 Conservative ministers hold events to tell ‘the other side of the story'”
A larger version of the above image appears appears on the CBC page. And in case you’re wondering who “Tom Mulcair” might be … Mulcair is the recently elected (and favoured by IPCC “expert” Andrew Weaver) Leader of the Official Opposition in the Canadian parliament.
The enviro-activists have been whining (quite loudly!) because the government has been checking up on some of these so-called “non-profit” groups – such as the non-entity known as “Forest Ethics Canada” – their activities and funding sources, such as Tides Canada, as I wrote in April.
As Terence Corcoran notes in concluding a recent article:
When Mulcair took his anti-oil sands fog machine to Alberta on Thursday, he arrived with and left behind a slick leftist take on economic policy that could keep Canadians and even Albertans slip-sliding for some time. He withheld his strongest language, did not call it “dirty oil,” but he did call the oil sands “massive on a planetary scale.” The NDP leader’s story line — Dutch disease, polluter pay, regional disparities, environmental degradation, currency woes, overheated economy — is in effect a dark and divisive economic perspective.
The fuzzy code words are “sustainable development,” the hocus-pocus bit of subversive United Nations jargon that has become the new intellectual launch pad for the next generation of green activism — and new ground in the old leftist wars.
It is new ground in the sense that activists have run out of momentum on their last campaign. Global warming failed. Conspicuously downgraded in the new Pembina report is climate change and carbon emissions. Over 68 pages, climate and carbon get a few passing references toward the end — a sure sign it is getting tough to rattle Canadians over a climate-warming scare that has run out of power, sputtering from a lack of actual warming and collapsing in the face of economic reality.
Replacing the climate issue as the main driver of government interventionism is a new collection of old ideas, repackaged, revamped and reshaped to make them seem fresh. Mr. Mulcair and Pembina have them nailed down: regional division, Dutch disease, auto workers against oil workers, business against the people, oil sands against the environment.
We saw this “launch pad” being built quite some time ago, as I have noted in several posts since October, 2010.
It is worth noting that in their “SUMMARY OF THE THIRD ROUND OF UNCSD INFORMAL INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS – 29 MAY – 2 JUNE 2012″, the IISD reports:
[...] Delegates resumed consideration of the draft outcome document for Rio+20, which was originally developed by the Co-Chairs and Bureau of the UNCSD Preparatory Committee (PrepCom).
Titled “The Future We Want” and 19 pages in length, the original document was released on 10 January 2012 [see my post here and here for details -hro]. This version of the draft incorporated input received by the UNCSD Secretariat from member states and other stakeholders, as well as comments offered during the Second Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD PrepCom in December 2011. Following its release, the zero draft was discussed at meetings held at UN Headquarters in January and March, when delegates proposed numerous amendments, and it expanded to over 200 pages in length.
[...] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed participants and emphasized that the stakes at this final negotiation before Rio+20 are very high and issues can no longer remain unresolved in the text. He said the Rio+20 outcome should, inter alia, identify: a process to define SDGs; a new institutional framework; and mechanisms that stimulate economies to create decent jobs, provide social protection, and support a healthy environment. He called on negotiators to work with the CST and streamline it further in order to make Rio+20 a resounding success.
Things didn’t go quite the way Ban Ki-moon wanted. But there is some evidence that he’s definitely shifted gears on the “greatest threat to the future of our planet” front. Take a close look at this picture (captured from his home page)
Here are some excerpts from some recent speeches (all emphases are mine -hro):
April 23, 2012
Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.
As mayors and associations of local and regional authorities, your support has never been more crucial to delivering practical results that will defeat poverty, protect the natural environment and improve disaster risk reduction.
By prioritizing sustainable urbanization within a broader development framework, many critical development challenges can be addressed in tandem.
Energy, water, food, biodiversity, climate change adaptation, exposure to natural hazards, consumption and production patterns, social protection floors and jobs, especially for young people — these are all closely linked. Our challenge is to connect the dots, so that advances on one can generate progress on others.
It is vitally important that this approach be recognized and endorsed at Rio+20.
We need an outcome from Rio+20 that is thus both practical and transformational.
We need to move beyond gross domestic product as our main measure of progress, and fashion a sustainable development index that puts people first.
We expect the conference to agree on the need to launch a process to elaborate Sustainable Development Goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals.
We are also looking to Rio to reinforce a set of building blocks for sustainability, including through support for an Oceans Compact and for my Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
Our goal is a fundamental ‘re-set’ of the global development agenda.
Hard but necessary choices lie ahead. Cities have a central role to play in making this paradigm shift a reality.
In the spirit of UN-Habitat’s “I’m a City Changer” campaign, I encourage you all to advocate for the importance of sound national urban strategies, balanced regional development policies, and strengthened urban economic and legal frameworks.
Sustainable cities are crucial to our future well-being.
Hmmm … “climate change adaptation”, eh? And not even a hint of the dreaded CO2 – or even greenhouse gas – emissions. Fancy that!
Yet at another “High Level” meeting, not too long ago …he said:
December 6, 2011
Remarks to High Level Segment of UN Framework Convention Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP17
And it may be true, as many say: the ultimate goal of a comprehensive and binding climate change agreement may be beyond our reach – for now.
Yet let me emphasize: none of these uncertainties should prevent us from making real progress here in Durban
It would be difficult to overstate the gravity of this moment.
Without exaggeration, we can say: the future of our planet is at stake.
People’s lives, the health of global economy, the very survival of some nations.
The science is clear.
The World Meteorological Organisation has reported that carbon emissions are at their highest in history and rising.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us, unequivocally, that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by half by 2050 – if we are to keep the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees since pre-industrial times.
According to the International Energy Agency, we are nearing the “point of no return,” and we must pull back from the abyss.
You are the people who can bring us from the edge.
[He then recycles all the familiar scary stories which he follows with a call for cash:]
On short-term, fast-track financing, $30 billion dollars has been pledged, and almost all of it has been identified in national budgets.
However, recipient countries want to see greater transparency in how the funds are allocated and disbursed.
The UNFCCC Secretariat has created a tool to do this.
We also need prompt delivery of these funds to where they are most needed.
On longer-term financing, we need to mobilize $100 billion per annum by 2020 from governmental, private sector and innovative new sources.
[Then he sings a chorus from the traditional hymn of praise:]
In the absence of a global binding climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol is the closest we have.
While Kyoto alone will not solve today’s climate problem, it is a foundation to build on, with important institutions.
It provides the framework that markets sorely need.
Carbon pricing, carbon-trading depend on a rules-based system.
I’m not sure if a “source” is different from a “mechanism” in UN-speak; but all previous “sources” of $$ have been via “mechanisms”. So perhaps there are some new “mechanisms” in the works that will fill the bill for “innovative new sources”! But isn’t it fascinating that it is the recipients’ demand for “greater transparency” in the allocation and disbursement of funds that he’s chosen to highlight! How about some concern for the donors’ demands, or don’t they count?!
But whatever the cash case of the hour might be, the UN Secretary-General has certainly made a “paradigm shift” between December and May! On May 23, he had an op ed in the NYT. It was entitled, “The Future We Want”. According to the text on the UN site, if you were to do a search for “climate” or “threat” you would find zilch. But you will find:
Sustainable development = 3
Sustainable energy = 2
Sustainable growth = 1
Sustainability = 1
This particular article concludes:
Rio+20 should issue a clarion call to action: waste not. Mother Earth has been kind to us. Let humanity reciprocate by respecting her natural boundaries. At Rio, governments should call for smarter use of resources. Our oceans must be protected. So must our water, air and forests. Our cities must be made more liveable — places we inhabit in greater harmony with nature.
At Rio+20, I will call on governments, business and other coalitions to advance on my own Sustainable Energy for All initiative. The goal: universal access to sustainable energy, a doubling of energy efficiency and a doubling of the use of renewable sources of energy by 2030.
Because so many of today’s challenges are global, they demand a global response — collective power exercised in powerful partnership. Now is not the moment for narrow squabbling. This is a moment for world leaders and their people to unite in common purpose around a shared vision of our common future — the future we want.
Strangely enough, there’s also no mention of the “green economy” in this May 23 article. Perhaps that’s why there’s so much blue in the image I captured above!
Mind you it is probably more likely that the reason he didn’t mention it is that he is fully aware that for all his High Level Panels and Gaia knows how many commissions, committees, working groups etc. – not the least of which is the recently concluded (additional) five-day “informal informal consultations” on the Rio+20 “outcome document” (in the deliberations of which one finds 32 mentions of “green economy” along with eight instances of “Agenda 21″) – the phrase has not yet been defined!
Yet on May 17, 2012 Ban Ki-moon urged students to “make some noise”:
“The truth is I am disappointed with the negotiations. They are not moving fast enough. That is why I need you,” Mr. Ban told students attending the 13th Annual Global Classrooms International High School Model UN Conference, taking place at in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, on Thursday evening. “When I say make some noise, I mean raise your voices. Demand real action. Shame those governments into doing more.”
Just what the world needs … more rabble-rousers! Speaking of which … one of the interesting tidbits I found in conclusion the IISD’s report of the May 29-June 2 “consultations” was as follows:
As a civil society observer noted, the preparatory process should not be seen in too pessimistic a light, as centering on a single issue—the outcome document. Negotiating the road to Rio has already had positive repercussions around the world: it has brought sustainable development into sharper focus, and spawned citizens’ groups with a renewed desire to sway government negotiations (interestingly, NGO representatives were seen sitting in on informal contact groups without objections raised from delegates). The activists of “Occupy Rio+20” are a sign that the bleak world economic situation has actually promoted sustainable development awareness, and has put people’s well-being, socioeconomic equity and environmental health in a strong public spotlight. [emphasis added -hro]
I wonder how many of those “spawned citizens’ groups” have been “initiatives” of the likes of the US Tides Foundation – or, closer to my home, Tides Canada?
But speaking of these members of “civil society” – aka Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) – as I have previously noted such “accredited” groups are granted observer status at whatever UN meetings their little hearts desire, and they are also permitted to “make statements”. Simon Hoiberg Olsen of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies made a statement on behalf of the “NGO Major Group”. Here are some excerpts:
NGO Statement June 1 2012 – IFSD [Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development]
2.We very much agree with the Children and Youth position on the High Commissioner for Future Generations. [See update below -hro]
3.We support the upgrading of UNEP into a specialized agency for our environment, with universal membership and based in Nairobi – either as outcome, or as a result of a process set in motion in Rio.
4. In the future, we think consultations with civil society on development of a system-wide strategy for the environment is vital. We propose that relevant civil society representatives become fully involved in UNEP consultations, particularly in issues of their core interest. In the long term we propose to let the Major Group system evolve into an expert system similar to that of the ILO, and therefore thank EU for bringing up para82 Sub J on participation, although if met with skepticism alternative formulations could be useful as well.
With the UN Secretary-General running around urging students to “make some noise” and “shame … governments into doing more”, I suppose it’s not surprising that the “fade to black” enviro-activists mistakenly think that the actions of the Canadian government should only be in accordance with what they deem to be appropriate.
But in their rush to play martyr with ludicrous claims to the effect that they are being “intimidated” and their voices “silenced”, they – along with their celebrity, media and political allies – seem to have conveniently forgotten that they do not speak for … the non-rabble-rousing majority.
This one-day “black-out” did nothing to reduce their dreaded “carbon footprint”, so I really question their sincerity. If they were truly dedicated to their cause, they would have taken down their websites and given up their computers long ago, instead of acting like, well … delinquent teenagers. Wouldn’t they?!
UPDATE – 06/5/2012: Unless I am misreading the ISSD’s analysis, it would appear that – at least for now – common sense has prevailed regarding the proposal for a “High Commissioner for Future Generations”. The summary notes:
Some delegations remained skeptical of proposals like the creation of a post of a high representative for future generations, which one delegate said had an unclear mandate. A number of observers expect that these bargaining chips will be quickly traded in the final negotiations.
Donna Laframboise has some hard-hitting words – with which I find myself in violent agreement – about this particular “concept”. Don’t miss her post, Canadian Greens & their Twisted Democracy.