Wonderful, Wonderful Hopenhagen

There is a funky website at hopenhagen.com that is aimed at inspiring hope about the December climate change talks that will be held in Copenhagen. A neat little trick is that visitors to the website can put in a quick saying about what gives them hope.

There is a funky website at hopenhagen.com that is aimed at inspiring hope about the December climate change talks that will be held in Copenhagen.

A neat little trick is that visitors to the website can put in a quick saying about what gives them hope.

The saying is added to all the others that have been submitted and all can be viewed as they scroll down the computer screen.

It is cute, and it is inspiring.

All this makes one wonder what exactly are the Copenhagen talks.

The formal name is the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Understandably this is sometimes shortened to COP15.

Even at that, the more common term being used is Copenhagen.

The talks are being held in the Danish capital in early December.

Copenhagen is the successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol refers to the 1997 negotiations that were aimed at getting countries to sign onto an agreement to reduce their respective greenhouse gas emissions.

As the reader may be aware, it was not exactly successful.

Canada had a Kyoto target of reducing its emissions by six per cent below its 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Unfortunately, Canada is currently about 30 per cent above its 1990 levels.

Other countries are also failing to meet their targets.

Given the realization that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced, the Copenhagen talks will provide a way to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol, portions of which end in 2012.

The tricky bit is that not all countries are volunteering to reduce their own emissions, but are rather keen for other countries to do their bit.

Even within individual countries there are certain regions that take issue with the fact they might have to reduce their emissions.

A certain province of Canada called Alberta does come to mind.

Even the Yukon is conflicted on this issue.

The Yukon is being affected by climate change, caused by the greenhouse gases that are released when fossil fuels are burnt.

Yet the Yukon encourages fossil fuel development, be it oil and gas exploration or the construction of large-scale natural gas pipelines such as the one proposed from Alaska to Alberta.

The Yukon is also currently dependent on fossil fuels for transportation, for heating and for some electrical generation.

This conflict between protecting the ecosystems that sustain the planet as humans know it and the desire for fossil-fuel-related economic development is not isolated to just the Yukon or even Canada.

Countries all over the world are grappling with the issue.

That is why governments from all over the world will be gathering at Copenhagen.

The Federal Government of Canada will be there, as the treaty that will hopefully result from the conference is between nations.

Other levels of government such as the Yukon territory will be in attendance as observers.

The implications for the Yukon from the Copenhagen talks will be important.

To deal with the impacts of climate change humanity will have to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels.

This is going to affect the quality of life in the Yukon, and change the way governments and corporations consider economic development.

But this is not necessarily negative.

Things will just have to be done differently.

Less emphasis on fossil fuels for energy generation will mean greater emphasis on hydro-power, and perhaps wind and solar energy initiatives.

Better building design will mean less energy, whatever its source, is needed to heat homes. This will have the added benefit of reducing utility bills.

Transportation will switch to hybrid and electric vehicles. The trick will be to ensure that the power source to charge them is fossil-fuel free.

The one thing the Copenhagen talks will not change is the current impacts of climate change.

What is being experienced now will continue for at least a century, even if by some miracle greenhouse gas emissions are reduced far below 1990 levels tomorrow.

The planet is stuck with climate-change impacts for the next century or so no matter what the outcome of the talks.

Copenhagen might be about hope, but in this case the hope is that these talks must succeed.

Otherwise things are going to get very bad indeed for the Yukon and the rest of the regions that constitute the living surface of the Earth.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read