Copenhagen represents a reset for Canada and a huge opportunity for Stephen Harper’s government.
Over the last few years, Harper has turned Canada into an international badass, blocking or opposing action on climate change.
This plays well in the petroleum-soaked West, but it is ultimately a loser for Canada as a whole.
Even if you doubt the danger of climate change, failing to take action is still foolish.
The current federal approach is, frankly, bad for business.
It is allowing our industries to be inefficient, and to profit from it. That may be OK in the short term, but it’s a loser in the future.
It is also robbing Canada of future business opportunities.
There is little, if any, domestic incentive to come up with good ideas to curb greenhouse gas emissions, to be innovative.
And innovation often leads to products that can be marketed to others.
Today, the innovations are being made in Germany, England, Sweden, China and India, among others.
As it looks now, Canadians are going to be buying those good ideas. And it’s going to cost us dearly in the future.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Domestic targets and international co-operation can make Canada a player in the industries that will drive the next big economy.
But to do so, Canada has to change. Drastically. It must start to pioneer climate-change-mitigating technology. It can’t do that in the absence of leadership from the federal government.
Copenhagen is putting climate change in the spotlight again.
After hedging, Harper has decided to attend the conference.
People are expecting him to obstruct the proceedings, or to pledge to do as little as possible.
The low expectations are, in fact, an opportunity.
By pledging concrete action, Canada can once again become a global leader.
And Harper can also change the public impression of his government.
Copenhagen is, in essence, a reset button.
And all Harper has to do is push.