The Future is in (Brackets)

(December 9, 2015)

As the climate talks become more intense in Paris, the amount of draft text that remains in brackets and still to be negotiated is troubling.

We may find that the world will not end either with a bang or a whimper, but with a (bracket), if the negotiators don’t get it right as they sort out which version of the agreement to accept.

The choices between bracketed texts can be stark. The difference between agreeing to limit global temperature rise to (1.5 C) or (2.0 C) is a matter of survival for small island developing states. Whether that number is a target (“Gee, it would be nice.”) or a goal (“Do it.”) is just as important a decision.

Canada’s changed role in these talks is heartening, and the new commitments we have brought to the table are good examples of how governments can change course. Our new minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, seems determined not to add another “fossil of the day” award to the trophy case on Parliament Hill.

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