David Cadman brings municipalities' message to Copenhagen climate-change conference

David Cadman is on his way to Copenhagen, Denmark. There, the COPE councilor for Vancouver will act as international president of ICLEA-Local Governments for Sustainability and work to bring national governments on board with thousands of municipal initiatives.

As things stand now, he’s got his work cut out for him.

For weeks, the European media have speculated that Canada will do everything it can to sabotage the UN Climate Change Conference (December 7-18). Prime Minister Stephen Harper only agreed to attend the summit after his American and Chinese counterparts said they would be there. And on December 2, James Hansen, one of the world’s pre-eminent climate scientists, said that the best thing the conference can do for the planet is to end in failure.

Speaking from home while packing for his flight, Cadman remained optimistic.

“It is so important that people understand that turning around the ship of state and getting to a low-carbon economy, is a very, very daunting task,” Cadman told the Straight. “But there is no alternative.”

He said that with cities soon expected to hold two-thirds of the Earth’s human population, it is vital that local governments are heard and convince their national counterparts that the need to reduce carbon emissions is urgent.

The plan, Cadman explained, is for local representatives to meet with national delegates and arrive at strategies to move forward on energy efficiency.

Some 70 heads of state are scheduled to attend COP15. And Cadman said that ICLEI is in contact with the Canadian prime minister’s office.

“Of course, it is very hard to meet with Canada nowadays,” he cautioned. “Because there is nothing to discuss. There is no plan.”

He explained that while Harper has announced he is prepared to address intensity targets, there is no guarantee that this strategy will reduce Canada’s carbon emissions. With intensity targets, individual developments are forced to reduce their emissions. “But,” Cadman noted, “if you do three times as much development, even if it is 25 percent or 40 percent more efficient, you are still going to put out a lot more greenhouse gases.”

Cadman predicted that Harper will find himself isolated at the summit. “I suspect that they are going to be very lonely,” he said. “I think everyone realizes that they [the Canadian delegation] are the obstacle.”

As the summit’s opening approaches, there has been talk about the emergence of a global cap-and-trade market. Under such a system, countries or corporations that can immediately reduce their carbon emissions would be giving carbon credits. These could then be sold to entities that want to emit greater amounts of carbon dioxide than their cap allows.

It is the possible emergence of such a cap-and-trade system that prompted Hansen to speak out against the summit.

Hansen–who likely deserves more credit than anyone else for the U.S. Congress’s turn on climate change–argues that a cap-and-trade system will not result in the emissions cuts that are necessary to avert dangerous temperature increases around the world.

“This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the Middle Ages,” Hansen recently told the U.K.’s Guardian. “The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption.”

Cadman readily admitted that Hansen’s warnings are valid. “From a scientific perspective, I understand his concern,” he said. “But from a realistic perspective, I think we’ve got to see what we have to work with here and try and work with it”¦.It’s the old adage of allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”

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Dec 5, 2009 at 4:16pm

Is Cadman going to tell the world how we are leading the world in air quality with cancer and asthma causing, soot blowing, GHG emitting, diesel buses on trolley bus routes?

Evil Eye

Dec 6, 2009 at 8:43am

I hear that the bistro's and café's in Copenhagen are delightful - hope Cadman enjoys. One wonders who he suckered in getting the money to go?

Sorry, Cadman is a nobody, pretending to be a somebody and will achieve zilch.

Charlie Smith

Dec 6, 2009 at 9:58am

David Cadman paid his own way to Copenhagen after the Metro Vancouver board denied funding.
Charlie Smith

Eric Chris

Dec 6, 2009 at 9:33pm

What has Cadman done to make Vancouver more sustainable and what does he hope to achieve in Copenhagen? I remember calling him a few years ago to question him on how TransLink is getting away with operating 600 diesel bus trips daily on the #17 trolley bus route. I could feel him squirming over the phone and he couldn’t wait to get off the phone.

In Vancouver where diesel buses spewing out tons of GHG emissions on zero emission hydro-electric trolley bus routes are the norm, Cadman sure walks the talk and knows how to keep Vancouver at the cutting edge of sustainability. I can’t think of a better statesman than Cadman to promote Vancouver as the model of sustainability. He can tell the world about how we operate diesel buses most of the time on most trolley bus routes.

Cadman, here is an idea, get off your fat ass and do something about TransLink’s disgusting use of diesel buses on the trolley bus routes in Vancouver. TransLink is operating diesel buses on trolley bus routes because do nothings like you at the COV ask TransLink how high to jump when they say jump.


Dec 6, 2009 at 11:53pm

Charlie Smith:

David Cadman paid his own way to Copenhagen after the Metro Vancouver board denied funding.

What choice did he have? Your articles of Nov 12 and Nov 19 made it clear that other local Mayors and councillors, including his own Vision colleagues in Vancouver, have had quite enough of Cadman's world-class pomposity, and weren't going to put scarce public money into any further junketeering on his part.

Rod Smelser

David Chudnovsky

Dec 8, 2009 at 1:53pm

So if Metro Vancouver, which sponsored David Cadman's candidacy to lead an important international organization of cities pays his way to a vital international meeting that's bad. And if Cadman pays his own way to the meeting, that's bad too. Methinks they doth protest too much. And methinks they don't want to talk about the substance of the issue.

We're fortunate to have people like Cadman who actually knows something about climate change and cities and is prepared to talk about it as he does in this article. If people have criticisms of the point of view he puts forward, then they should engage in the debate. That might actually be helpful.


Dec 8, 2009 at 7:50pm

David C., what does Cadman know about anything when he was instrumental as a Director of TransLink to keep diesel buses on trolley bus routes? Cadman is a disgrace and has done more to set Vancouver back on climate change through his "diplomacy" than anyone else on council. If we had someone with balls to keep TransLink in check, we wouldn't have people choking on diesel bus soot or wearing ear plugs to get to sleep along the 99 B-Line route, with diesel buses on trolley bus routes, thank you very much!

Chudnovsky you are wrong

Dec 9, 2009 at 9:25am

Cadman's candidacy was NOT sponsored by Metro Vancouver - he chose to run for that position on his own, without the endorsement of the Board. When his travel bills began to explode he was outed (figuratively this time) and told that Metro would no longer be footing the bills. Don't worry though folks, Cadman's only got about 6 billion frequent flyer miles tallied up from his carbon emitting junkets - YOUR miles by the way! They were accumulated with taxpayer’s money. I'm sure he'd of rather kept them for him own personal use, but squandering a few for an opportunity to puff himself up and strut around pretending he knows something would just be too hard to resist for an egotistical demagogue like Cadman. By the way, did I mention that climate change is a communist plot perpetrated by the left-leaning Pinko's that have nothing better to do than run around trying to have the fluoride taken out of your water!


Dec 9, 2009 at 4:24pm

David Chudnovsky:

So if Metro Vancouver, which sponsored David Cadman's candidacy to lead an important international organization of cities ...

Mr Chudnovsky, can you explain why the Metro Board, including Cadman's own colleagues from Vancouver CIty, refused to pay his expenses? Were they also protesting too much?

Rod Smelser