UPDATE: The Yes Men come clean. Read this, and watch the video:

Original post from Dec. 14:

Canada "announcement"If only it were true. This has all the makings of a Yes Men project, which is too bad, because it would be wonderful news if it were true:

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Canada Announces New Agenda For Climate and World Development

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 Attaché for Environment and Planning announced today an ambitious plan for a new climate change framework that answers vital concerns voiced by developing nations.

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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 developing world.”

The “announcement” was posted on the website enviro-canada.ca, modeled after the real website of Canada’s Department of Environment. There’s another seemingly fake site (http://en.cop-15.org/) modeled after the official site for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. It’s got video of a congratulatory response to the Canadian proposal from the Ugandan delegation.

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The Wall Street Journal has already reported the about-face as fact–no, scratch that, it’s a fake Wall Street Journal page too. The fake Journal even found someone to criticize Canada’s new position:

“Canadian business is fully committed to a responsible move towards a reduced carbon economy, but the drastic benchmarks announced today seem beyond the pale,” said Ross Laver of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. “We are still trying to learn more about the proposal, but it’s clearly a major concern for our members. This is not the way to create jobs for Canadians.”

Canada would be a ripe target for this sort of prank from climate-change activists, as its conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, has refused to commit to meaningful emissions cuts. It’s a policy largely driven by the oil-extraction projects in Alberta’s tar/oil sands region, which result in massive carbon dioxide emissions. Provincial leaders in Ontario and Quebec have publicly bashed Harper’s position, saying Canada should offer something better.

There’s a key hallmark of a Yes Men stunt here: this will force Canadian leaders to make the embarrassing announcement that, no, they haven’t put forward a new plan aimed at reaching a global climate-change treaty. In the past, The Yes Men have forced Dow Chemical to state that no, it has not accepted financial responsibility for the toxic disaster in Bhopal, India. This fall the pranksters forced the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to clarify that no, it has not stopped opposing a national climate-change bill.

Speaking of which, Canada’s indignant response was just released (it appears, though the response smells fishy too). And Canadian officials don’t realize it’s a fake Journal report:

Spoof Releases Inhibit Democracy

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 “press@enviro-canada.ca,” 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.

The Office of the Environment Minister and Environment Canada confirm that this release and all statements within it are unequivocally false. Worse, they risk heavily damaging the negotiating process. Canada wishes to fully expose these efforts for the irresponsible deceit they represent, and shall seek the full measure of legal recourse against these criminals under Danish and international law.

Today as always, Canada’s binding responsibility is to supply the world – including its burgeoning developing portion – with those means of transport, health, and sustenance that prosperous markets require. Stopping short of these dictates would violate the very principles upon which our nations were founded, and endanger our very development.

Canada’s current energy policy represents an elegant synthesis of the most advanced science, while remaining faithful to Canada’s tradition of political pragmatism. Experts note, for example, that the much-decried oil sands of Alberta, contrary to environmentalists’ dire assertions, are enabling Canada to meet ambitious emissions goals by providing her, as well as her neighbors, with the energy resources needed to transition to a cleaner energy future.

“Without the dynamism of our oil sands industry,” says Bruce Carson, a special Adviser to Environment Canada, “we in Canada would not have the energy – moral, financial and literal – to develop the alternative energy future the whole world craves.”

“Canada’s line may not always be popular, but we do feel the scientific and political assumptions we’ve inherited from the Kyoto Protocol no longer suit present physical or market realities, or a vigorous energy policy into the future,” notes Michael Martin, Canada’s chief negotiator in Copenhagen. “A 2006 baseline for emissions reduction targets, and a comprehensive re-examination of finance for developing countries in the context of a generous and efficient foreign-aid policy package, will guarantee an efficient, direct path to useful negotiations within our increasingly fast-paced energy market.”

The Canadian government wishes to note that in addition to misleading the world on Canada’s energy stance, today’s impostors generated a cascading series of hopes that culminated in the delivery, by the Ugandan delegation, of an impassioned speech in today’s COP-15 press briefing.

“It is the height of cruelty, hypocrisy, and immorality to infuse with false hopes the spirit of people who are already, and will additionally, bear the brunt of climate change’s terrible human effects,” said Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister for the Environment. “Canada deplores this moral misfire, while remaining confident in her critical role in the arena of the UNFCCC, and of the world. Canada continues to seek dynamic new energy solutions every year, and its energy development research is second to none. As for Canada’s role on the international stage, it remains vibrant, strong, and appreciated by our numerous partners.”

Today’s stunt, with its short-sighted, unrealistic policy ideas and brutal disregard for the oppressed, should distract no one from the serious, energetic, and meaningful commitment of Canada to a shared sustainable future on this planet, which will guarantee all nations their due portion in accord with historical norms.