Three percent in Copenhagen

Canada is poised to torpedo international climate negotiations now underway in Copenhagen.  Canadians concerned about a future for the next generations can have a dramatic impact by pressing their government today.

During the Bali negotiations in 2007, Canada was reluctantly persuaded to work toward a target of 25-40% emission reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, in line with what climate scientists projected would be required for developed countries in order to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts.

Since then, Canada has made no effort to achieve these targets and today is proposing just a 3% emissions cut by 2020, less than 6% cut Canada had already been obligated to achieve under the Kyoto Protocol in the 2008-2012 period.  Prime Minister Harper’s government has turned its energies to an obfuscation effort, refering to the 3% cut below 1990 levels as a 20% cut below 2006 levels.

Meanwhile, Arctic ice has been thinning and retreating far faster than climate scientists had predicted.  This opens the possibility that even the ambitious levels called for in Bali may not be adequate to avoid some catastrophic impacts.

Canada has no plan for achieving even the very modest targets our government plans.  Prime Minister Harper has said repeatedly that he expects to follow along with any targets set by the United States, which is not a Kyoto signatory nation and doesn’t have the same obligations Canada has.  It is possible that at any time in the future, Canada will be sanctioned for its failure to live up to its Kyoto responsibilities.  Yet Canada has rejected recommendations from both the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and from a joint Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute report about how to achieve its own targets.

In the meantime, Canada’s appearance at the negotiating table with demands that poorer countries do more while Canada reneges even on existing obligations is compromising the integrity of all climate negotiations.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is joining hundreds of Canadians in Copenhagen to demand a more reasonable position from Canada. I urge Canadians still here in Canada to continue to maintain pressure on their government now to reach at least those targets that all developing countries are asked to achieve.

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