11 Countries Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet | The Top Information Post

11 Countries Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet | The Top Information Post.

But now it appears that it’s going to be even easier for international copyright offenders to be tried in court by the interests–and lobbying power–of Hollywood. Starting today, 11 countries—Canada, America, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand—are having a secret (no members of the public and no press) meeting in Lima, Peru to figure out what can be done about copyright offenders who transmit Hollywood’s precious content over the interweb’s tubes without paying for it.

The meeting is held under the banner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. They’re looking to sign an international treaty that will create world government-esque laws to handle anyone who downloads an early leak of Iron Man 3 illegally.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling this the “biggest global threat to the internet since ACTA.” If you remember, ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an international, internet-policing treaty that was shut down by the European Parliament with a 92 percent nay vote. Luckily for Europeans, no EU country is anywhere near the TPP negotiations in Peru right now—and European politicians are now quick to distance themselves from the policies that ACTA is trying to ram down the world’s throat.

But in North America, the ACTA movement is still very much alive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill in March that makes Canada more ACTA-friendly by allowing customs officers to destroy counterfeit goods and ratcheting up the criminal penalties against copyright offenders. And the United States has seized hip-hop blog domains without warning or trial, because they were alleged to host pirated material.

A leaked chapter outlining some preliminary discussion to re-examine intellectual property has revealed that TPP wants to add further checks and balances to restrict fair use. Those behind TPP want to make sure that if a teacher is trying to show some copyrighted material in their class for the purpose of education, or if a humorist using copyrighted material in an article for the purpose of satire, they’re doing so under what TPP calls a “good faith activity.”

The language in this leaked TPP chapter is incredibly dense and dates back to February 2011—so not only is it a confusing bit of writing, but it will also likely be revised over and over during this meeting in Peru. As it stands, the EFF is worried that “the United States is trying to export the worst parts of its intellectual property law without bringing any of the [fair use] protections.” And just like SOPA or CISPA, many people are concerned that the broad language in new legal terms like “good faith activity” will potentially lead to unjust prosecutions.


New banking rules in the US, discussing the new Volcker Rule.

There are six big arguments against the Volcker Rule. Here’s why they’re wrong..


Today is the day we finally get to see the Volcker Rule, the new regulation that aims to prevent banks from engaging in speculative trading activity. (See here for an overview.)

Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. (Bloomberg)

In all the excitement, a lot of commentators have been writing posts arguing that the Volcker Rule is either unnecessary or perhaps even counterproductive. Both Matt Levine and Tyler Cowen have summed up these cases well.

There are usually six different complaints about the Volcker Rule. By addressing them, we can lay out the case for why this rule is important and worth strengthening. I’ll take the complaints in order from least to most important:

1) “The Volcker rule isn’t a fix-all for Wall Street’s ills, and it might not even be a necessary component of reform. Why are we bothering to do this complicated thing?”

Let’s back up: The Dodd-Frank Act included a series of reforms that were designed to reinforce each other. The ultimate goal is to build a financial system that helps the real economy while also both preventing future crises and having the correct tools to deal with crises when they do happen.

In order to limit the government’s need to act as a safety net during a crisis, regulators are creating various tools that try to do three big things: First, the financial sector will have to internalize some of the costs of crises and insurance. Second, there’s more supervision of banks through things like capital requirements. Third, there are limits on the sorts of activities the banks can do.

The Volcker Rule mainly focuses on the third component — it prevents banks from engaging in “proprietary trading,” which essentially removes the parts of banks that gamble and act like hedge funds, because those parts can blow up quickly (see here for more).

It’s also a conceptual and cultural shift: Banks need to be boring again and focus on their core business lines. As Marcus Stanley of Americans for Financial Reform wrote, the Volcker Rule creates “a new definition of the dealer or market maker role that is more stable and reliable due to the removal of proprietary trading incentives.” This role will still support lending and credit but will also create a new “reliable utility role for dealer banks in the financial markets.”

That’s all just to say that there’s no one single “fix-all” reform here. All three components of financial regulation need to hang together. That involves a well-capitalized banking sector with high leverage, liquidity, and risk-adjusted capital. It also involves a sane over-the-counter derivatives market. And it requires a credible mechanism to force losses on to investors at firms that were previously “Too Big To Fail.” Those components have to work together.

2) “That’s fine, but seriously, this rule would have done nothing useful in solving the last financial crisis. It’s a solution in search of a problem.”

Perhaps. But “solving the last financial crisis” is only one of many goals here. There are other problems that the Volcker Rule does address, at least in part:

First, take resolution authority—the legal regime that’s designed to wind down very large banks and institutions that run into trouble. By preventing banks from engaging in proprietary trading, the Volcker Rule actually makes this task easier. Proprietary trading is notorious for creating quick, large losses, which makes it harder for regulators to deal with failing institutions (resolution authority typically involves nudging banks to better capital while giving regulators the tools necessary to take over failing firms—see more here).

The Volcker Rule also works in concert with other reforms, providing a backstop if those rules don’t work out. If derivatives regulations turn out to be insufficient, for instance, then the Volcker Rule still prevents large banks from carrying out huge bets on tail risk through the derivatives market.

The Volcker Rule would have also helped make the last financial crisis less extreme. “Certainly proprietary positioning played a role in the crisis,” says Caitlin Kline, a former derivatives trader who now works at the non-profit Better Markets. “Banks amassed inventories of high-yielding highly-rated products with largely overnight funding, and this street-wide carry trade helped cause a massive liquidity crisis and then solvency issues, which was a major factor. The Volcker rule will absolutely affect most front-office desk’s ability to warehouse huge positions like that.”

On Human rights day, Palestine should be on agenda!

Interfaith Peace-Builders.

Today, December 10th is Human Rights Day.  This day is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the importance of human rights in our increasingly interconnected world. Human Rights are basic freedoms which all humans are entitled: the right to life, the freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.  But are these rights applied equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and other differences?

Last month I traveled on a two-week delegation to Palestine and Israel organized by Interfaith Peace-Builders.  During my trip, I spoke with many individuals, both Israeli and Palestinian, and heard their personal stories.  With every experience, my eyes were opened to the harsh reality of life in this region.   I couldn’t help but feel outraged, knowing that the US government is an ally that provides major funding to the Israeli government.

Israelis are living in a state of fear that fuels much of their national policy; policy that by nature violates the rights of their Palestinian neighbors.  Israel’s fear may be justified by the brutal treatment of European Jews, but does that history give Israel the right to deny human rights to Palestinians?

I thought I was prepared for the situation I found in the Palestinian communities we visited, but I was shocked at the depth of the pain I witnessed.  Many Palestinians have been forcibly displaced from their villages, sometimes massacred, often thrown in jail without charges.  Families have been torn apart, separated by walls, barbed wire fences, and endless military checkpoints, all erected by Israel.

Five questions about the mysteriously rediscovered Senate emails

Five questions about the mysteriously rediscovered Senate emails.

OTTAWA – On May 20, CTV reported that Benjamin Perrin, a lawyer in the Prime Minister’s Office, “helped draft the letter of understanding” that called for Sen. Mike Duffy to pay his disputed expenses with $90,000 from then chief of staff Nigel Wright.

Perrin, who had left the PMO in April, issued a release the next day, stating that the report was “false.”

“I was not consulted on, and did not participate in, Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Duffy’s expenses,” Perrin’s statement said.

An RCMP document recently said emails from Perrin had been deleted when he left the PMO last March.

But the revelation Sunday night that the government does in fact have Perrin’s emails has led to more questions in an affair that already has more than its fair share. 

Question 1: What’s in the emails?

Although Perrin said CTV’s report was false, the Information To Obtain (ITO) released in court by the RCMP suggests Perrin negotiated Wright’s arrangement with Duffy. Perrin exchanged an unknown number of emails with Duffy’s lawyer, Janice Payne.

The RCMP has described the contents of some of those exchanges, because Wright handed over the emails, but there are likely other emails on which Wright was not copied.

The RCMP has also asked Duffy for those emails, but it’s not clear whether he has them or whether they are still with Payne. Since he was Payne’s client, he can presumably demand them, but neither he nor Payne has said whether they intend to hand them over.

Question 2: How did the Prime Minister’s Office manage to lose track of Perrin’s emails?

In September, when RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton asked the PMO for Perrin’s emails, he was told they had been deleted.

“Internal practice within the PMO is that a person’s account and emails are removed from the computer server once their employment ends,” Horton wrote.

Last month, after Horton filed his ITO – which led to public speculation about email backups – the RCMP contacted the PMO to ask it to look for the emails again.

On Sunday evening, Isabelle Mondou, an assistant secretary to Cabinet, wrote to the RCMP to say that on Friday, officials discovered “that Mr. Perrin’s emails had in fact been retained due to a litigation hold in an unrelated matter.”

Mondou apologized for having “previously failed, even if inadvertently, to accurately inform you and the PMO,” and promised to hand over the emails.

On Twitter, Postmedia columnist Andrew Coyne expressed skepticism about the PMO’s story: “You don’t check? You don’t get that straight? You don’t nail that down? You don’t ask?”

In reply, Jason MacDonald, director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, replied: “We did ask. Repeatedly. PCO (Privy Council Office) said they were gone. Repeatedly. They were wrong. We told them to tell the RCMP. They’ve done that.”

Question 3: Does the government really delete email accounts when employees leave?

The letter from Mondou says that “the operating protocol of the PCO to close and delete email accounts of departing employees of the PCO and the PMO is a matter of course.”

On Nov. 22, in response to a question about the account-deletion policy, PCO spokesman Raymond Rivet provided links to federal policy documents that outline rules for dealing with documents, neither of which mention PCO’s “operating protocol.”

On Monday, Rivet failed to respond to follow up questions asking about that protocol, but Ian E. Wilson, who was chief Librarian and Archivist of Canada until 2009, said in an interview Monday that it seems unlikely that all PCO and PMO email accounts are routinely deleted.

“I think it has to be more complicated than that, as records created day by day in PMO in discussion and policy are of longterm importance to Canadians,” he said. “I find that wholesale deletion of email accounts – how do I put it? – seriously impact the historical record.”

The Library and Archives Act forbids officials from destroying records “without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents.”

Wilson said Parliament did not want officials routinely destroying documents.

Neither the Library and Archives nor PCO responded to queries on Monday about how they are complying with the act.

Question 4: Will Canadians ever know what’s in the Perrin emails?

The RCMP does not comment on ongoing investigations, and won’t release them unless they file charges or file them in court as part of a request for a search warrant or production order.

In Question Period on Monday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked the government to table the emails in the House. The government did not do so.

Question 5: Is the RCMP releasing information to put pressure on PMO to release documents?

The most recent Information to Obtain – outlining the RCMP’s case against Wright – was made public before the documents it sought were handed to investigators, a departure from normal procedure, the Ottawa Citizen has reported.

The RCMP says that courthouse procedures have changed. The courthouse says that Horton took a new step to make the documents public, leading to speculation that the RCMP is using the ITO to pressure the PMO to co-operate.

An RCMP official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday that’s not correct.

“How should I put it?” the official said. “That makes for good copy, I’ll stop there. Do you think an organization like the RCMP would play those games?”

The official added that the way the RCMP is going about its investigation is being “rigorously” scrutinized. “It is by the book.”

On Monday, Perrin declined  comment about the emails to a Postmedia News reporter who visited his office. He now works at the University of British Columbia.

– With files from Douglas Quan, Postmedia News.


© Copyright (c) Postmedia News


Elizabeth May: 10 Reasons Why Harper Isn’t Really Canadian

Elizabeth May: 10 Reasons Why Harper Isn’t Really Canadian.



In a Global interview with Laura Stone, I am quoted as saying that Stephen Harper is “not Canadian.”

Having lunch with a reporter on virtually no sleep is a high risk proposition, but I didn’t say anything I didn’t mean. I did make it clear that I was not saying Mr. Harper is “not Canadian.” What I did say was that Stephen Harper’s political orientation was informed by an American/ Republican approach to politics. In other words, I am not, like the crazed anti-Obama crowd asking him to produce his birth certificate. The issue is this: unlike any prime minister in our history — Liberal or Conservative — Mr. Harper reflects a political culture foreign to Canada.

Before my interview, I don’t think anyone had mentioned publicly Harper’s participation as a university student in Young Republican summer camp south of the border. (Tom Flanagan escorted a group of his students to the political training ground for Republican campaigners.) Coupled with stories shared by one of his grade school classmates, who told me they had had a very persuasive history teacher who preached the notion that Canada would be better off as a state within the United States, I have observed his political sensibilities with a concern that he was drawn to a different system.

I admit freely that I have no idea how much these influences have shaped his political thinking. To make the statement I did, I was relying on close observation of his behaviour and actions in showing disrespect for Parliament. Stephen Harper as Prime Minister has been steadily undercutting core principles of the traditions of Westminster Parliamentary democracy.

It is a bit ironic, as some tweets have highlighted (some in unprintable abuse), that I was born in the U.S. I grew up in the middle of a constant state of political awareness, informed by both cultures. My U.S.-born mum and my British dad had lively dinner conversations about the nature of democracy. When I’d come home from school full of hopelessly wrong notions imparted by my teachers (such as that the USA was the only democracy in the world), my dad would set me straight. I remember my father explaining the differences in the respective systems — often saying that if only the U.S. Congress had the ability to vote non-confidence in the government, a sitting President could be removed. Once the family moved to Canada, I soaked up the essence of the Westminster Parliamentary system. I loved that we have a system of government premised on respect for traditions. If not for self-restraint in the exercise of powers, a prime minister could become a virtual dictator.

Fundamental notions of the supremacy of Parliament, constitutional monarchy, representative democracy in which every MP is the equal of the other and the prime minister is merely “first among equals” made for a very different approach to governance than the U.S. Constitutional separation of powers and its checks and balances.

In many ways, the two Constitutional documents expressed the differences between the national systems in the inspirational goals of the U.S. foundational document calling for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” contrasted with the stolid, workmanlike Canadian commitment to “peace, order and good government.” I choose “peace, order and good government,” along with the traditional Canadian communitarian values, set against the individualism that is so typical of U.S. ideals.

What makes me say Mr. Harper has strayed from those traditional Canadian values and style of governance? Well, here’s a short list:

1) First prime minister of Canada to prorogue to avoid political difficulties since Sir John A Macdonald, and Macdonald, on return, immediately went to an election.

2) First Canadian prime minister to prorogue twice to avoid political difficulties.

3) Only prime minister in the entire Commonwealth in the last 100 years to prorogue to avoid a political difficulty. (The prime minister of Sri Lanka tried once, but the Governor General refused).

4) First prime minister to run a system of rigid party discipline in parliamentary committees, rejecting any and all amendments to legislation. Previously legislative committee worked quite collaboratively and legislation was nearly always amended prior to Royal Assent.

5) Prime minister Harper was found guilty of contempt of parliament in refusing to turn over the documents in the Afghan detainee matter. The documents have not been tabled to this day.

6) First prime minister to visibly chafe at the reality that he is not head of state. In Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill one year, he insisted on accepting the Royal Salute ahead of the former Governor General. The use of Centre Block as a stage for pomp and ceremony for visiting presidents is contrary to our constitution. Heads of state should be greeted at Rideau Hall. The red carpets and flags in the main hall of Parliament are completely contrary to our traditions.

7) He acts as though he is in charge of Parliament, instead of acknowledging the supremacy of Parliament. This attitude is reflected in telling civil servants they should refer to the Government of Canada, as the “Harper Government.”

8) Understanding Canadian parliamentary democracy includes understanding that every MP is part of the Government of Canada. The Conservative executive is comprised of the PM and his Cabinet (or Privy Council). Mr. Harper is the first prime minister to insist on treating Opposition MPs as though they are not part of the government. This is demonstrated in the systematic exclusion of local Opposition MPs from announcements in their ridings. The Harper approach is to tell local groups they cannot hold events at which federal dollars are involved with their own MP, unless that MP is Conservative. So, local MPs are not given the courtesy of even a chance to sit in the back row, while Conservative MPs from other areas make local announcements.

9) Mr. Harper rejects the role of Parliament as having control of the public purse. MPs are not given enough fiscal background to make wise choices. The former Parliamentary Budget Officer went to court to gain access to such information for MPs. Despite gaining court approval for our right to that information, the new PBO has still not successfully wrested it from the executive.

10) Add to all this the consistent application of U.S.-style attack ads, even outside of writ periods. Stephen Harper is the first political leader in Canadian history to run television advertising more than a year before the election.

Now, none of this is illegal. Any prime minister could have done these things. Think back to the days leading up to November 28, 2005 (the day selected for the non-confidence vote announced in advance by the NDP, Bloc, and Conservative leaders to bring down the Liberal minority government.) Former prime minister Paul Martin could have prorogued. Why didn’t he?

The reality is (I am sure) that it never occurred to him, because it was simply not done. Respect for tradition has protected Canadians from abusive use of the potential all-powerful role of the Prime Minister’s Office. A prime minister who does not respect these traditions falls outside the normal spectrum of Canadian political thought.

There are other abuses. The centralization of power in the PMO (not an institution even mentioned in the constitution, but created first by Trudeau and now morphed into a seriously bloated unaccountable $10 million/year partisan fortress) is the most troubling change. There really is no Cabinet government anymore.

Everything is controlled through the PMO. Respect for an independent and professional civil service has been replaced by political interference in departments and civil servants on a routine basis. Westminster parliamentary democracy was never about one man rule. Democracy is being stolen in plain sight, but no one seems to notice.

$3.1 billion every year to prop up a disruptive actor?

“I believe that we can now say that Israel has reached childhood’s end, that it has matured enough to begin approaching a state of self-reliance … We are going to achieve economic independence [from the United States].” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint Session of the United States Congress – Washington D.C., July 10, 1996 (Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs )

It’s been over 15 years since PM Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress stating Israel’s goal of economic independence. In 1997, Israel received $3.1 billion in aid from the U.S. In 2012, Israel was still receiving $3.1 billion annually in U.S. aid. We haven’t made much progress towards PM Netanyahu’s goal. For Israel’s sake, as well as for America’s, it’s time to reduce U.S. annual aid to Israel — to 0 — over some reasonable adjustment period (perhaps 5 to 10 years), leaving open the possibility, of course, for emergency aid.

Let me emphasize that this isn’t a call to end America’s close and special relationship with Israel. Israel certainly isn’t a perfect society. But its ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and tolerance are closer to America’s ideals than any other country’s in its region.

Nor is this a call for America to disengage from the vital task of keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a common interest of both the U.S. and Israel. Israel — as with our other close allies (such as the UK) — should still have access to American weapons. But it should pay for them on normal commercial terms, rather than receiving them as part of an aid package. The U.S. should move to a more normalized relationship with Israel because:

A) Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense. Israeli GDP is about $250 billion dollars/year, and its per capita income is about $33,000/year. In other words, replacing all American aid would cost Israelis about 1 percent of their income per year, hardly an outrageous sum. Aside from the financial metrics, Israel has a well developed economy in other ways. For example, on the UN Human Development Index, Israel ranks 16th (between Denmark and Belgium). Israeli life expectancy at birth is 81 years, compared with only 79 years in the United States.

Also, as a general principle, people and institutions make better choices when they have to internalize costs. If the U.S. ends aid to Israel, Israelis may make better choices about their national defense and foreign policy.

B) Other countries/programs could better use this aid money. Although somewhat related to the above point, this matter is worth highlighting separately. To the extent the U.S. is committed to helping other countries, there are many of the world’s nations in far more desperate situations than Israel. More than 20 nations have life expectancies below 60 years, and many also have appallingly high infant mortality rates. All of these countries could benefit from the aid the US directs to Israel.

Even domestically, the aid that goes to Israel could be useful. Detroit is bankrupt, and our Congress is cutting back on food stamps, and making other painful budget cuts.

C) Israel and the United States have increasingly different visions about the future of the Middle East. We shouldn’t subsidize a country (even an ally) that is undermining our policy goals. The U.S. has long-term goals in the Middle East (including avoiding the humanitarian and financial catastrophe of another major war in the region). A major (bipartisan) goal of the United States has been the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has legitimate security concerns, and a just peace will not be easy to achieve.

However, the current Israeli government is clearly not committed to the U.S. vision, and has done everything possible to sabotage American efforts. Israel’s continued building of random settlements — all over what’s supposed to become the State of Palestine — directly conflicts with American policy goals. As Secretary of State Kerry recently commented, the United States believes the Israeli settlements in Palestine:

“are illegitimate. And we believe that the entire peace process would in fact be easier if these settlements were not taking place. … if you say [Israel is] working for peace and [Israel] want[s] peace, and a Palestine that is a whole Palestine that belongs to the people who live there, how can [Israel] say we’re planning to build in a place that will eventually be Palestine? So it sends a message that perhaps [Israel] is not really serious.”

In exchange for $3 billion dollars/year in aid to Israel, the least the U.S. should expect is that the Israeli government be serious about negotiating peace with the Palestinians.

If the Netanyahu government can afford to build additional settlements, it can afford to do without American aid.

Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Immediately prior to Harvard, he was founding Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Steven was one of the NYC leads for Applied Sciences NYC (Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to build several new engineering and innovation centers in NYC), NYC BigApps and many other initiatives to foster job growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2010, Steven was selected as a member of the Silicon Alley 100 in NYC. He has a Ph.D. in Management from Yale University, and over 20 years’ private sector work experience. Geographically, Steven has worked in the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East. You can follow him on Twitter at: @Steven_Strauss


Follow Steven Strauss on Twitter: www.twitter.com/steven_strauss


The battle against climate change is not confined to Warsaw | EurActiv

The battle against climate change is not confined to Warsaw | EurActiv.


Still, it is clear that Warsaw will not produce a new climate treaty. The conference is an intermediate stop on the way to a global climate agreement to be adopted in Paris in 2015. Warsaw offers an opportunity to develop rules for this agreement. The disappointing summit in Copenhagen in 2009 showed the importance of having the building blocks for a new agreement in place before any emission pledges are put on the table. In addition, there will be talks on climate finance, ‘loss and damage’ and other key topics on which it is essential to maintain and build trust among countries. And the negotiations will help keep climate change on national and international political agendas at a time when it is often eclipsed by economic turbulence.

The summit in Warsaw is therefore important in the run-up to 2015, even if it won’t result in a climate-saving treaty. In fact, even an agreement in Paris is likely to be insufficient, because it cannot go further than individual Parties are willing it to go. Success in Paris thus is closely linked to changes that will need to take place at regional, national and local levels. The United States is a case in point: in 1997, their negotiators signed the Kyoto Protocol, but Congress refused to ratify it. Without political pressure on the major emitting countries and sectors to undertake action, the results of the climate negotiations will remain limited. However, in part thanks to the climate negotiations, this pressure is increasing, with climate change now regularly being on the agenda of the G20 and the UN Security Council, and the private sector increasingly being engaged in climate action.

Another key limitation of any Paris treaty is that it will only enter into force from 2020 onwards. Postponing action until then is not only irresponsible, but will increase the costs and difficulty of curbing emissions and adapting to climate change in the future. This means it is crucial to find other ways to keep making progress.

Thankfully, there are other forms of international cooperation that can help. For instance, addressing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as tropospheric ozone, soot and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can lead to relatively fast and easy results, with additional benefits for public health. More and more is being done in this area. For instance, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, established in 2012, has grown to 72 members, including 33 countries and the European Commission, as well as environmental, scientific and international organizations, all committed to implementing known emission reduction strategies. Tackling CFCs through the Montreal Protocol on ozone layer depletion has also contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emission reductions. Last week, parties to this agreement had a chance to make another contribution by reducing HFCs, but sadly missed the opportunity. Doing so in the near future could make a great difference.

Another short-term measure is the reduction of fossil fuel subsidies, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates at 480-1900 billion USD annually. Reducing them could shift consumption enough to reduce global CO2 emissions by 13%, the IMF suggests. With climate change in mind, the G20 agreed in September to phase out ‘inefficient’ government subsidies. This goal can be pursued through the World Trade Organization, where subsidies for unsustainable fisheries have similarly been targeted.

These examples confirm that progress on climate change can also be made outside the climate negotiations. The UN should track those activities and link them to overarching climate objectives. In this way, the negotiations can build on actions outside of the climate treaty, with small victories in the short term building trust – and confidence – for achieving long-term goals.

Copenhagen taught us the perils of setting unrealistic hopes for a UN climate conference; now we need to learn not to be cynical, either. Climate change has to be – and is being – tackled by a multitude of forums working in concert. Warsaw will probably not save the climate, but by gathering people who are committed to saving it, sharing ideas and understanding how all the pieces fit together, we can make real progress.”