December 11 is being rung in as an historic day in communities all over the world, but whether the COP21 agreement will be judged ultimately as a tremendous victory for common sense and collaboration between nations, or as a day where the hot-air index went through the roof, remains to be seen.
History isn’t made with a proclamation; it’s made over the longer term, as the politicians, executives and administrators step out of the limelight, and head home, where they will have to show the grinding leadership necessary to make this dream of sustainable development come true.
It’s heartening news that almost 200 nations have signed onto COP21, including the world’s largest economies, and – as importantly – developing nations, who will find it even more burdensome. We should pause to raise up each others hands and let out a collective cheer.
Then we should look to home, and the hard task of bringing everyone on board. Western Canada has much to consider, if it’s leaders want to make this historic day a milestone instead of a tombstone. COP21 lends weight to the argument that two-thirds of the world’s identified oil and gas reserves will have to remain in the ground.
Is Alberta prepared to transition from an economy dependent on the huge reserves identified in its bitumen sands, to one that embraces a green economy? Does the NDP government of Premier Rachel Notley have the stamina to negotiate that change? Is Premier Christy Clark prepared to reconsider her government’s ambitious LNG dream, which would commit this province to decades of hydrocarbon production and dependency in the guise of offering a ‘transitional’ fuel?
It’s up to us to hold our leaders to their commitments. Let’s make sure COP21 gets the buy-in necessary to effect real change, and doesn’t turn into another document that allows governments to copout behind the scenes. As the limelight shifts, the impetus of Dec. 11, 2015 will have to be renewed every day from here on forward by you and me.