At the eleventh hour when the gloomy spectre of failure was descending upon the Climate Change Conference that will begin in Paris within a few weeks, a miracle has happened.
Just weeks ago I was predicting that COP 21 would be a failure just like all the other preceding international conferences on the environment over the last 45 years.
But things have changed radically and just within the last few months. Now I believe there is a glimmer of hope, and with some push from some strong world political leaders, there is now a real chance for progress.
I am being cautious here. There have been absolutely no breakthroughs on an international level concerning environmental and conservation issues ever before, not a single one of any significance.
Stockholm 1972 was a failure. Rio 1992 was a failure. Kyoto 1997 was a failure. Copenhagen 2009 was a failure. Lima 2014 was a failure. Now however, there is a small chance that Paris 2015 could be a success, or at least the real beginning of something that can evolve into a success.
It appears that with France leading the conference that the European Union will stand strong. China is moving in a positive direction and the USA under Barack Obama, despite the resistance of a Republican Congress, recognizes the gravity of the situation. And of course the Pacific Island nations have a vested interest in seeing progress as they watch the water levels slowly rise.
What has changed and changed significantly are the positions held by Australia and Canada.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the very hostile climate change denier who declared that coal was good for humanity and climate change was “crap,” has been ignobly ousted by his own party, replaced by a more intelligent and reasonable Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. This means that Australia will at least listen.
However the recent election in Canada was in fact a climate change revolution. Prime Minster Stephen Harper, the darling of the fossil fuel industry, was turfed out in a dramatic turnaround with the election of a young and “with it, gets it” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canadian scientists were immediately un-muzzled and Canada has created the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change under a very progressive Catherine McKenna.
The tide has turned from a notoriously aggressive climate change-denying Canadian regime to a government that is taking the problem very seriously.
President Francois Hollande now has the opportunity to host a conference that could for the first time address the real threats to our environment and if it does so, this will be the most important conference in the history of humanity.
Because if this conference fails, the consequences will be unpleasantly profound for the future of all humanity.
Captain Paul Watson is a co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and a former national director of the Sierra Club in the United States. He is in Paris for COP 21.
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