Foreign Policy Blogs

British Commonwealth on Climate Change

The heads of government of the Commonwealth have just concluded their biennial meeting, having convened in Uganda.  On the subject of climate change, they have put forth a unified position.  It appears, however, that it is a watered-down position from what almost all of the 53 nations wished to say.  Why?  In the words of the fun-loving folks from South Park:  Blame Canada.

Canada, was represented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  See these articles:  Harper alone on climate change at Commonwealth summit from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Harper defiant on climate change from the "Toronto Star."  Harper was criticized for pressuring the meeting to remove " any reference to binding targets or timelines, replacing them with a vague guarantee that all countries should work toward some undefined "aspirational' goal."  The final "Lake Victoria Climate Change Action Plan" calls for a post-Kyoto plan that includes "a long term aspirational global goal for emissions reduction to which all countries would contribute."  "Aspirational goals" was the term used at the APEC meetings in September and this phrase, not particularly "full of sound and fury" yet still "signifying nothing" were nearly universally excoriated then.  See my post, APEC.

Meanwhile, down in Australia, Harper was losing his only ally in the Commonwealth on this subject, John Howard.  Not only did Howard lose his position as PM, he also lost his Parliamentary seat.  (See my post on this immediately below.)

On to Bali and the UN meetings December 3 through 14 that are to formally kick off the negotiations for a post-Kyoto regime on addressing the climate change crisis. 



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change