O Canada! My home and native land! True patriot love, in all thy son’s command!

Heather Ducharme

That’s the first line the national anthem of my mother country. However, sitting in the RSPB climate change policy team two desks over from the guy who goes to the UNFCC meetings, I’m sometimes inclined to dissociate from my home and native land, despite the patriot love. Indeed, depending on the extent to which we have embarrassed ourselves internationally at the latest round of talks, I might even point out that, not being a son, I can’t actually be blamed...

 Source: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

But, in advance of the Doha meetings that begin today, a small glimmer of hope has appeared on the Canadian horizon: Peter Kent, our conservative Minister of the Environment (yes, the fellow who took Canada out of Kyoto around this time last year) has been quoted by the CBC as saying that climate change is a ‘real and present danger’. It seems that Superstorm Sandy – and perhaps the recent comments of re-elected, second-term Obama – has helped focus his mind. 

The change in tone is surprising enough that my savvy Canadian friends have posted the CBC article on facebook under the comment “Hell has frozen over” (which, of course, is even less likely than usual).... Canadian left-wing bloggers also can’t quite believe their ears, pointing out that Kent’s remarks followed a parliamentary committee appearance where he had little to say on climate change action, and his MP colleagues even less.

So what will happen this time around?  Insiders suggest there won’t be anything major coming out of Doha, which will instead focus on technical details, getting process in place for a new post-Kyoto agreement, and perhaps, if we’re lucky, something interesting on REDD+.  My selfish hope, though, is to just get through the next two weeks without any of my office pals sending me more pictures of polar bears perched precariously on tiny icy floes bearing the maple leaf...