Rio+20 failed, plain and simple. Few are surprised, and many are grasping at straws within the weak, toothless text, searching for something to grab onto to claim victory. Rio failed because if it had succeeded, it would have fundamentally undermined some of the most powerful forces on the planet: big polluters.
I'm not surprised to find out that Canada is promoting the tar sands at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development and the environment, after all, they have a long and marked history of using these conferences to promote and defend the image of the tar sands abroad. It might not be surprising, but that doesn't mean it isn't wrong.
I was shocked by this week's news that the Harper Tories were closing Environment Canada's Experimental Lakes Area, cutting a smokestack emissions research group and a Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program. Where are the real Tories willing to put the word "conserve" back into the Conservative Party of Canada?
While Minister Kent has a strong incentive to coordinate a national approach, he may lack the political and public support. Climate change lacks urgency. Everyday Canadians are not threatened by the negative impacts of climate change in the same way that baby boomers are immediately concerned with old age pension.
Environmental groups in Canada are in the crosshairs of the government, and are under investigation for fiscal mismanagement. But what about groups like the Fraser Institute, which uses foreign money to feed misinformation to children, undermine national and global climate action and block shifts away from the most carbon-intensive energy on earth?