Let me explain.
Australia, as a country, is comprised of 2,970,000 km2. Within this area resides 23.13 million people. Like Canada, there are vast distances between population centers, which makes travel over large areas a necessity.
And, what about the United States? Well, the US is 9,857,000 km2 with a population of 318,900,000. It is a much larger population base but still largely concentrated in urban areas. Again, this requires travel over great distances.
Let’s move on to Canada. Canada comprises 9,985,000 km2 and supports a population of only 35,750,000 people. With significant amounts of the population living in major centers, once again, we have vast tracts of land that are largely unpopulated which necessitates significant travel.
Okay, now let’s talk about Europe. Not the individual countries in Europe, but Europe as a continent. The whole continent of Europe comprises 10,180,000 km2 and hosts a population, in 2013, of 742.5 million people. Keep in mind Europe is made up of approximately 50 different countries. The US, as a country, has 50 states. Simple common sense tells us delivering services, food, necessities, and travel within one country in the European Union is much less difficult, less expensive, and has less environmental impact than in countries as a vast as Australia, the United States, and Canada.
To think a “one size fits all” environmental or climate change policy can be applied across the board to all countries is madness. It’s like jamming a size 12 foot into a size 6 shoe. It is doomed to fail. Just as we saw with Kyoto.
So, let’s talk just for a minute about Canada’s participation in these 2015 talks. Canada sent 383 delegates, which is more than the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia combined. Since when does more mean better or more effective? This huge contingent, which is trying to impress the world with how environmentally aware Canada has become since electing a new government, should consider what footprint they have left on the planet. The environmental result of this huge delegation is over 800 metric tonnes of CO2. This has the equivalence of greenhouse gas emissions as that of 153 cars driving 2,000,000 miles plus 260 tons of garbage dumped in land fills. Believe it or not, this has even outraged a Green Party MLA.
Instead of looking to be heroes, perhaps the delegations should look at how to implement meaningful, achievable change tailored to each country’s specifics. With realistic expectations, goals, timelines, targets, and budgets, each country can be kinder and gentler to the environment with the result of real global environmental improvements.