Broken Promises – Canada at Lima talks on Climate Change

LIMA, Peru, Dec. 12, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Days before the start of the Lima Conference on climate change (COP20), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Canada to become more ambitious and visionary on the global fight against climate change. The government’s current actions in Lima do not bring us anywhere close to that target.

Adding to this week’s comments made by the Prime Minister, wherein he referred to oil and gas regulations as “crazy”, Canada’s stance on climate change is considered a joke at home and on the international scene here in Lima. Although it was once a proactive leader, Canada has now lost its relevance in international negotiations. Indeed, there’s a reason Canada didn’t get any Fossil of the Day this year (the “award” given to the most obstructive countries at COP, in the past often given to Canada). “It’s not because Ottawa’s delegation turned into a positive influence here but because our country is becoming more and more irrelevant at these talks,” said Alex Cool-Fergus of the Canadian Youth Delegation.

Over previous years, both G8 and G20 countries committed to phase out fossil fuels subsidies, but they still total almost $1 billion in Canada. Despite its commitment in Warsaw last year, the Canadian government tossed regulating oil and gas sector aside. Even the unambitious Canadian Copenhagen target is officially out of reach without regulations on Canada’s oil and gas sector, according to Canada’s independent environmental watchdog.

Canada should honour the promise made a year ago in Warsaw and put its offer for climate action after 2020 (‘intended nationally determined contribution’, or INDCs, in UN speak) by the end of March 2015. The government should also help move forward discussions on how climate financing for poor countries will reach the US$100 billionper year by 2020 as rich countries promised in Copenhagen in 2009. Ottawa should also play a positive role in the discussions around assessments of pledges that countries will put forward before the next major climate conference in Paris next year. “Assessments of country pledges are crucial to determining whether all countries are contributing their fair share and whether we are, collectively, on track to avert the worst of climate change,” said Christian Holz of Climate Action Network Canada

As a recent poll shows, nearly nine in ten Canadians want more international actions and efforts on climate change. Therefore, Catherine Gauthier from ENvironnement JEUnesse concluded, “The government is not fulfilling its duty to reflect its citizens’ voice at the international level. As members of civil society, we’ve seen Canadian negotiators prioritize fossil fuel companies over public interest time and time again in Lima.”

The presence and dynamism of delegations from Québec, Ontario and British Columbia indicates at what level steps are actually being taken for reducing emissions across the country. “On the international scene, these provincial governments are better representing Canadians’ aspirations on the climate issue than the federal government,” addedAlain Brunel from AQLPA.

These talks will lead us to Paris at the end of 2015, at which time Canada will have a newly elected government. “Although all opposition parties currently propose stronger climate policy than the Canadian government, climate change must be a top priority during the election campaign in 2015 and beyond. Canadians deserve a race to the top as far as the climate aspirations of all political parties go, and we hope any new government will change things up with regards to Canada’s contribution to the international process and, crucially, climate action at home. Canada cannot possibly expect to be a leader in global diplomacy if it maintains a business-as-usual stance on fossil fuels and climate change,” insists Leehi Yona of Adopt a Negotiator.