Did the Yes Men Punk Canada in Copenhagen?
So, did you hear the one about Canada making a huge splash at the
COP15 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen by completely reversing its
climate change policy and setting aggressive new carbon reduction
Well, then you've heard about a high-concept prank, which seems to
have been perpetrated by someone willing and capable of going to
dizzying lengths to show policymakers what they should be doing to
combat climate change.
We're guessing this is probably the work of the Yes Men, obviously!
This time, the world was fooled by a well-timed press release and a well-constructed facsimile of a Wall Street Journal online article.
The fun began this morning when the Yes Men put out the following
release, purporting to come from the Assistant Press Secretary, of the
Canadian Office of the Minister of the Environment. Here it is in full:
CANADA ANNOUNCES NEW AGENDA FOR CLIMATE AND WORLD DEVELOPMENT
Plan includes stricter emissions reductions and immediate "climate debt" bailouts for most affected countries
COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- In a major development coming three days before
the final round of UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, and
responding to the recent concerns expressed by the G77 bloc of
countries, Canada's Attache for Environment and Planning announced
today an ambitious plan for a new climate change framework that answers
vital concerns voiced by developing nations.
Dubbed "Agenda 2020," the plan sets strict new emissions-reductions
guidelines for Canada and fast-tracks financing for vulnerable
countries beginning in 2010.
"Today the G77 has again made their voice very clear," said Jim
Prentice, Canada's Minister for the Environment. "This policy is our
answer. Long in discussion, and slated for release later this week,
Agenda 2020 is Canada's commitment to a science-based approach to
climate change, and our way to assert our partnership with the
Agenda 2020 sets binding emissions reductions targets of 40% below
1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050, in line with the
recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
and approaching the levels demanded by the African Group (link). The
plan also introduces a new instrument, known as the "Climate Debt
Mechanism" (CDM), committing Canada to much-needed funding to those
developing countries facing the most dire consequences of climate
change. CDM payments will begin with 1% and rise to the equivalent of
5% of Canada's GDP annually by 2030.
"We believe all people will benefit from an equitable climate deal that truly energizes the world economy," said Prentice.
The initial 2010 CDM outlay (representing 1% of Canada's GDP, or $13
billion) will be allocated to the African countries for
emissions-reduction strategies and alternative-energy development
programs. Payments will also finance resilience-building projects in
specific communities already facing the results of climate change or
threatened with its most dire consequences.
The CDM is the world's first financial mechanism that truly
addresses the rising costs of climate change in developing countries.
It follows a November announcement from Canada and its Commonwealth
partners committing $10 billion to climate change adaptation for
vulnerable countries (link). By providing quick access to adaptation
finance, the CDM builds on this commitment and takes the global lead in
supporting vulnerable countries. CDM payments will be completely
separate from pre-existing development assistance and will be
considered to be payments in a balance of trade.
"Canada is taking the long view on the world economy," said
Prentice. "Nobody benefits from a world in peril. Contributing to the
development of other nations and taking full responsibilities for our
emissions is simple Canadian good sense. We want to show the world that
Canada is a leader on climate change."
The full details of the CDM framework will be released when Prime
Minister Stephen Harper attends the high-level session of the
Copenhagen climate talks this Wednesday.
All of that: totally fake! But it was backed up online by a story by "Gustav Rainer" at the "Wall Street Journal," which reads in part:
Canadian delegates to the United Nation Climate Summit in
Copenhagen announced a significant shift in the country's climate
The announcement, in part seemingly prompted by today's walkout
of the G77 bloc of nations, represents a major change in tone and
substance for the large energy-producing nation. The new plan, dubbed
"Agenda 2020," details an aggressive new commitment to curtailing
carbon emissions, and lays out the guidelines for a new climate
adaptation fund for developing nations.
"This agreement tackles the core drivers of social and ecological
vulnerability," said Matthew Delane, Canada's Attache for Environment
and Planning in Copenhagen. "It's nothing less than a new vision of
Since then, Canadian officials have been forced to walk this all
back. In a press release from Frederic Baril, the actual press
secretary of the Office of the Minister of the Environment, he combats
the "spoof press release":
Canadian Government Deplores Spoof Releases, False Hopes
OTTAWA, Ont. -- December 14, 2009 -- One hour ago, a spoof press
release targeted Canada in order to generate hurtful rumors and mislead
the Conference of Parties on Canada's positions on climate change, and
to damage Canada's standing with the international business community.
The release, from "email@example.com," alleges Canada's
acceptance of unrealistic emissions-reduction targets, as well as a
so-called "Climate Debt Mechanism," a bilateral agreement between
Canada and Africa to furnish that continent with enormous sums in
"reparation" for climate damage and to "offset" adaptation.
Unfortunately, the spoof release was reported in major international outlets.
Of course, that link just goes to that fake Wall Street Journal article, so Canada has a way to go before they're all caught up on what's going on.
Signs point to the Yes Men, whose primary way of
pranking-the-world-in-order-to-save-it is to pass themselves off as
representatives of an organization and make big splashy announcements
about major policy changes. Recently, the Yes Men posed as representatives of the United States Chamber of Commerce,
and staged a press conference at which they announced that the Chamber
was adopting a more progressive stance on climate change policy. The
Yes Men have also previously pulled off remarkably well-built newspaper facsimiles.
Last week, the Yes Men attempted to use projectors to turn the
Hopenhagen Globe that sits in the middle of Copenhagen's City Hall
Square, into a massive anti-Coca Cola billboard. Their attempt was quickly ferreted out by Danish police.
The Huffington Post's Green Editor, Katherine Goldstein, who is on
the ground in Copenhagen, reports that sources close to The Yes Men
were acting very coy, "smiling," while saying, "Who said it was the Yes
We hope to be able to say so soon!