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Dalhousie University professor Meinhard Doelle
Dalhousie University professor Meinhard Doelle

Earlier discussion

Your Copenhagen questions answered Add to ...

The Copenhagen summit on climate change begins today. The international talks are intended to establish a framework for a new global warming treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

We are pleased that Meinhard Doelle, an environmental law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, joined us for an online discussion on Canada's position at the Copenhagen negotiations.

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Prof. Doelle is travelling to the Copenhagen summit later this week. He is the associate director of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute and director of the Marine & Environmental Law Programme. From 1996 to 2001, he was executive director of Clean Nova Scotia. He has been involved in the practice of environmental law in Nova Scotia since 1990 and in that capacity served as drafter of the N.S. Environment Act. He is currently environmental counsel to the Atlantic Canada law firm of Stewart McKelvey.

From 2000 to 2006, he was a non-governmental member of the Canadian delegation to the UN climate change negotiations. He was a visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Center of the IUCN in Bonn, Germany, in 2008. Prof. Doelle has written on a variety of environmental law topics, including climate change, energy law, invasive species, environmental assessments, and public participation in environmental decision-making. He is the author of several books, including From Hot Air to Action: Climate Change, Compliance and the Future of International Environmental Law.

Read the full text of the discussion as it happened

9:59 Jill Mahoney: Thank you for joining us, Professor Doelle. This is Jill Mahoney, I'll be moderating our discussion today. Let me open by asking you how Canada's legacy on Kyoto will frame this country's position at the Copenhagen summit?

10:00 Meinhard Doelle: Hi Jill: Canada's legacy on Kyoto is mixed. We took on a relatively tough target and ratified early, but have done little to implement. This will affect our credibility at the negotiations in Copenhagen.

10:02 Jill Mahoney: How does the rest of the world view Canada on this issue?

10:04 Meinhard Doelle: My sense is that the rest of the world is increasingly viewing Canada as a barrier to a strong agreement, mainly because there is a general sense that until developed countries lead by example, we will not have the moral authority to persuade developing countries to reduce emissions in their country, given their lower capacity and responsibility on this issue.

10:06 Jill Mahoney: There's a piece in today's Globe reporting that Canada is looked down upon because of its "dirty" image on emissions reduction. Do you think Canada is feeling international pressure to change its position?

10:09 Meinhard Doelle: I am sure the pressure on Canada during these negotiations will grow and grow. Developing countries will point to Canada as the reason not to act, and developed countries will point to Canada as the reason why they can't be expected to take on the kinds of targets the IPCC suggests are needed to avoid the worst consequences.

10:09 Comment From Guest: Why are we reluctant to use leading edge technologies to fix the problems of GHG and renewable green global energy?

10:12 Meinhard Doelle: In any transition, there are those that will benefit and those who will be hurt. The hard part is to distribute the benefits and costs of the transition fairly. This has proven very difficult in Canada. Unfortunately, the longer we wait, the less benefits there will be to distribute, and the more cost.

10:13 Jill Mahoney: Several of the comments posted in advance of this discussion ask about so-called "Climategate". What do you make of the release of internal e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit in England, and what impact do you think this will this have on the Copenhagen summit?

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