At the Paris Climate talks, or COP 21 (Conference of Parties on Climate Change), currently the negotiations are difficult. . . 

  Bruce Witzel photo


The United States and Australia are demanding that poorer nations accurately disclose their current and future emissions.


At Watson's -bruce witzel photo


President Obama said in his Paris speech, “let’s agree to a strong system of transparency that gives each of us the confidence that all of us are meeting our commitments. And let’s make sure that the countries who don’t yet have the full capacity to report on their targets receive the support that they need.” 


                                                                minneapolis sculpture - bruce witzel photo


On the surface this seems like a reasonable request.


Pathway to Peace, representing the Communities feeling about the meaning of peace - photo by Bruce Witzel



South African ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko chairs the G77 bloc of 134 mostly poor nations. She objected,  saying that this “narrative” on  transparency cast poor countries as “villains.”


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I’m with her on this. People in poorer countries are often overwhelmed to simply provide fresh water, adequate nutrition, and basic medicines, let alone accurately measure their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Canada’s Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, is currently part of the official Canadian delegation at the climate talks. In this excerpt from a CBC interview today, she explains the crux of the problem:

“China and India (and the G77) are rightly angered  by the fact the industrialized world really created the climate crises over a period of time from the industrial revolution until about 10 years ago.

There is no question that the historical emissions that are presently in the atmosphere, they are not history, they are still active in causing extreme weather events. The bulk of that was caused by industrialized countries. Now we’re saying,  “what a minute  – China is a bigger polluter than the United States so you have  to bear the same burden as the United States.”  

There is an issue of equity here, and it is a very tough one for the developing countries, even the big polluting developing countries, to accept the idea to turn the page and say they are just as responsible as we are. In real terms,  in real scientific terms, they are not as responsible! And the industrial world, including Canada, should be prepared to do more, and reduce our emissions more, and lead the way in the newer and greener technologies.

Financing is part of that too because it was the industrialized world, led by the United States in Copenhagen, that said were going put forward a hundred billion dollars per year by 2020 and it’s going to be there for you developing countries… (to provide) climate financing.

And this is also a sticking point because these (poorer) nations are saying, “will that money be there and how will it be administered?”


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I have learned about many solutions, including 2 decades of micro-credit and small solar businesses that continue to provide increasing employment and enabled the rural poor to work or study in the evenings via 100’s of thousands of installed 50 watt solar electric light systems that displace expensive and dangerous kerosene lanterns. Money is saved for food and green house gas emissions are reduced. Large agencies said it wouldn’t work. Yet these installations continue to grow at an exponential rate.


Sun image - bruce witzel photo

As another solution, my next post will explain how Carbon Pricing is an economic tool towards reducing the worlds Green House Gas Emissions, and how this works in British Columbia with our Carbon Tax Shift. 

I apologize for my low profile in recent months, due to numerous other commitments. It’s good to be back, though be forewarned – my future posting will come and go.

For COP 21 in Paris, all the best towards a positive result for all the parties – that’s all of us. In these difficult and complex negotiations towards climate justice, may this be one positive step  forward.


Peace  & solidarity  –  Bruce



    • Hello Susan. It is so good to here from you: though I’m so sorry your health is not well. I hope you don’t mind that I have included a fairly lengthy reply. I pray may it lift your spirit.

      To begin, please watch for my next 3 or 4 posts. I think you will find them helpful as well. One of them is a letter from Charles Brandt.

      I have read two recent inspiring books – “The Optimistic Environmentalist”, by David Boyd, an environmental lawyer who co-chairs Vancouver’s greenest city initiative with the Vancouver mayor & “Sun Power” by David Neville,… he worked with Jimmy Carter’s administration as an early solar power pioneer, later in the 90’s to form the Non-profit SELF (solar Electric Light Fund). Later in the mid 2000’s, he formed the company Standard Solar, which by 2012 was one of 70 fastest growing companies in the US.

      In each case, the authors tell of incredible successes the world has made over the past 50 years – the one the mainline news seldom report. Or the ones we tend to forget about.

      In each case, they caution for the reader not to “rest easy” or “bury our heads in the sand”… there is still much work and changes necessary to move our world away from over-reliance on the fossil fuel based economy..

      To reiterate, as Elizabeth May points out, firstly, “the industrial world… should be prepared to do more, and reduce our emissions more, and lead the way in the newer and greener technologies” and secondly… she points out that climate financing to poorer countries is an integral part of that…

      We’re not talking “charity” here…. we’re talking climate justice, like allowing simple access to micro-credit so poor people are able to borrow to purchase these small solar electric systems, etc etc…. Similar to middle class people being able borrow for a car, and hopefully, one like a Prius. 🙂

      For many years, I have thought and sometimes despaired: why aren’t we embracing so many excellent solutions that exist right now? Now I’m realizing the world is (and has been) embracing amazing solutions. We just need to do it quicker… and we need to work together. A lot less wars would help, wouldn’t it?

      Today, in spite the suffering and terror I know exists daily, I am more hopeful in this moment, than I have ever been before. Though in all humility I know, that I, and each of us are called to do what we can and more, small or big, personally and collectively. We can all reduce the effects of climate change. We can all transform the face of the earth.

      With peace, love & compassion – Bruce

  1. Thanks, Bruce, for your fair summary of negotiations. Blaming and shaming are not at all useful; I love the concrete response of examples and look forward to learning more about inventive ways to change our habits.

  2. wonderful to receive your thoughtful reflections, Bruce!
    you are freshly transparent.
    may all obstacles to global unity be overcome,
    as you suggest,
    with wise actions which consider
    the future of living beings
    on this beautiful planet 🙂

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