Canada in Copenhagen

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May and deputy leader Jacques Rivard are joining hundreds of Canadians in Copenhagen to press for the international treaty most Canadians voted for and to oppose the dangerous proposals Canada’s official delegation brings to the table.

Over the next 10 days in Copenhagen, the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol is to be negotiated.  This treaty will bind participating nations to emissions reductions, forest protection and economic and technology transfers over the next decade.  It has tremendous economic implications for the next few decades and overwhelming human rights implications for the next generations.

On the opening day of negotiations, Canada has already received its first Fossil of the Day award.  The award is granted to those countries which are obstructing progress on climate action.

I agree with U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer that “The clock has ticked down to zero”.  Strong commitments are needed now to prevent catastrophic climate changes within the lifetime of today’s children.

The agreement our grandchildren need would require stronger action from both developed and developing countries.  Developing countries must agree to limits.  Developed countries, however, must lead the way and pay the bulk of the costs.

The Green Party of Canada also brings a unique demand, which is that any agreement must have some built-in flexibility to adopt strengthened targets as science develops.

The Kyoto Protocol was too weak when it was negotiated and known to be outrageously inadequate by the time it came into force.  We can’t afford to lose another decade now.  Recent studies of Arctic ice show that our climate is changing much more quickly than scientists predicted in the last IPCC report which informs the current negotiations.  If we commit to inadequate targets at this crucial juncture, we may consign our grandchildren to a world of tragic loss.  We need to be able to strengthen the targets if new science indicates that we must.

Canada’s negotiating position is possibly the weakest on the planet.  Canada is among the developed countries that agreed to target emissions reductions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020.  Instead, Canada is offering a paltry 3% reduction, not even attaining its international Kyoto obligations a full 8 years after the Kyoto period ends.  Furthermore, Canada does not have the policies in place even to reach its own woefully inadequate targets.

Canada’s position threatens the global deal.  Our obstinate insistence that we be rewarded with dramatically reduced expectations for violating our international obligations makes a mockery of any deal.  For anyone commited to securing a future for our planet, we must oppose Canada’s position.

The Copenhagen summit continues until October 18.  Prime Minister Harper is expected to join the Canadian delegation next week.

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