Canadian Youth: We Are Truly Sorry For Our Government’s Stance On Climate Change

Ani, a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation representing Manitoba at the Durban climate conference, will be a regular guest blogger during COP17 in Durban. Ani works as a Public Education and Outreach Coordinator for Climate Change Connection, a project of the Manitoba Eco-Network. To read more about Ani, visit her info page at YouthDelegateManitoba.wordpress.com. Here is Ani’s latest post:

In a turn of good old-fashioned Canadian manners, the Canadian Youth Delegation is publicly apologizing for a problem they didn’t create. This morning an apology letter by the Canadian Youth Delegation was published in The Mercury, a Durban daily newspaper. The letter cites irresponsible Canadian policies, such as Environment Minister Kent’s declaration to defend the tar sands at the COP17 climate negotiations and Canada’s recent rejection of the Kyoto Protocol.

Furthermore, the Mitigation Working Group of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency to the United Nations climate change negotiations I am involved, with attended the plenary session for further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. We worked long hours last night to draft the youth intervention for the plenary session to bring our voice to the table reminding negotiators that the Kyoto Protocol is the only legally-binding agreement we have and needs to be kept alive.

Watch Kluane (18) from Victoria, B.C. addressing the plenary on behalf of the global youth constituency.

Just before the Youth intervention the Africa Group and Alliance of Small Island declared “clear and loud that it will not let African soil be a graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol […|nor accept an agreement which does not include more ambitious targets for developed countries.” Groups stated that countries who are leaving the Kyoto Protocol are not doing this because they want to do more but because they want to do less.

Again Canada was awarded first place Fossil of the Day for proposing “eventual solutions” for “urgent problems.” Canadian environment Minister, Peter Kent, said yesterday to media that: “There is an urgency to this. We don’t need a binding convention, what we need is action and a mandate to work on an eventual binding convention.” What can I say? He nailed the first half of the sentence!

More links:

YouthDelegateManitoba.wordpress.com

Fossil of the Day: Climate Network.org

Canada’s Climate Policy All Hot Air, No Substance

What the Canadian Government says about climate change:

While the challenges with respect to climate change are great, our responsibility is also clear. We are the stewards of our environment, and we will continue to count it amongst our most cherished and defining characteristics. The time has come for real action. The moment is now and the world must act.” Environment Minister Jim Prentice

What the world says about Canada and climate change:

  • Fossil of the Year goes to CANADA, for bringing a totally unacceptable position into Copenhagen and refusing to strengthen it one bit.  Canada’s 2020 target is among the worst in the industrialized world, and leaked cabinet documents revealed that the government is contemplating a cap-and-trade plan so weak that it would put even that target out of reach.

Canada has made zero progress here on financing, offering nothing for the short term or the long term beyond vague platitudes…

Canada’s performance here in Copenhagen builds on two years of delay, obstruction, and total inaction.  This government thinks there’s a choice between environment and economy, and for them, tar sands beats climate every time. Canada’s emissions are headed nowhere but up.” Climate Action Network, (a group of 500 NGOs) at the end of the Copenhagen Conference, December, 2009

  • Karsten Sach, the head of the German delegation, stated at the Bali Climate Conference in 2007:  “We Europeans don’t see the Canadian position as constructive.”

  • To express their unhappiness with Canada’s position at recent climate talks in Thailand, the South African delegation stood up and led the Group of 77 developing nations (except for a group of small island states) out of the room when Canada addressed the conference.

So  why the discrepancy between the lofty words on the Government of Canada website and the reality of the Canadian government’s policy?

Jim Hoggan, founder of PR firm James Hoggan and Associates and DeSmogBlog.com, explains it this way:

“The Canadian government’s climate plan is pure politics – pure public relations. It’s all hot air, with no regulation or legislation to back it up. The government is not passing laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is not setting science-based targets and it’s not financing renewable energy.”

For more discussion of Canada’s policy go to my “What The Heck IS Canada’s Policy?” page or this link.

Substance, not Stalling, required in Copenhagen

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be attending the Copenhagen Conference after all, it was announced yesterday, one day after Harper had said he wasn’t going to be attending.  No reason was given for the flip-flop.  At recent climate change conferences such as Bali, Canada has sided with the old U.S. administration, Australia, and Japan to block serious 2020 emission reduction targets.  The other delegates at the Bali conference went so far as to boo the U.S. delegation.  Finally, the delegate from Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad, challenged the U.S.:

If you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way.”

To see footage of the Bali conference and Kevin Conrad’s rebuke to the U.S. (and by association, Canada, Australia, and Japan) click here.

Remember, it was in Bali that Canada was awarded the “Fossil of the Day” gold medal, the U.S. got the silver, and the two countries together shared the bronze!  These are awarded to the nations that were most active in blocking, stalling, or undermining the UN climate change negotiations.  While the other countries Canada sided with – the U.S., Australia, and Japan – have all had a change in leadership, here in Canada we are blessed to have the Harper Conservatives once again leading our nation’s delegation.  And they are insisting that Canada is working on the international front “actively and constructively through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to develop an effective international agreement to address climate change in the post-2012 period.” (personal correspondence from David McGovern, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian International Affairs Branch). Mind you, this is what they insisted at Bali, as well.  As the Toronto Star said of Canada at Bali:

It is hard to argue that one is building bridges when they so obviously lead nowhere.

What can Canadians do?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”      ~ Margaret Mead