Hopenhagen Hypocrites

Last weekend my wife and I travelled from Stockholm to London by train, returning from a sabbatical visit to Sweden. By coincidence, the COP 15 climate negotiations had just ended, so the overnight train on Saturday from Copenhagen to Cologne included a large number of delegates from the conference. While waiting for the steward, I started talking to a young man from Friends of the Earth in the U.K. who had spent two weeks at the conference and was also returning to London by train.

He expressed disappointment with Canada with its repeated winning of the daily and, ultimately, annual fossil award. I asked him if any of the delegates from Canada had flow to Heathrow and then taken the train to Copenhagen. He said that the ones he’d spoken to hadn’t—although they all had a range of excuses, including not enough time, not liking train travel, and not being aware that there was a train service. Given the differences in greenhouse gas emissions between train and air travel, most of the answers sounded like those people make when it comes to reducing their own emissions.

His final dig at the Canada delegates came with his observation that next year’s meeting in Mexico should attract more Canadians given that it’s warmer than Denmark in December. And he added, with limited train travel between Canada and Mexico, it’ll be another reason for Canadians to fly.

And, I suspect, more fossil awards.

Larry Hughes
Submitted to Globe and Mail, 23 December 2009