I used to be a proud Canadian. Before I became a Climate Activist, that is. But now as a Climate Activist, I feel nothing but shame and embarrassment for Canada at climate talks.
We are a proud people. We’ve always seen ourselves as an accepting, nonjudgmental, hospitable, compassionate, peaceful, responsible, accountable and polite people. We value democracy, diversity, education, clean air, fresh water, human rights, health care, bilingualism and same-sex marriage. We have a land of beautiful landscapes, pure lakes and amazing wildlife. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We are proud of our country.
My current disillusionment is rooted in the rise to power of Stephen Harper and his brand of Conservatism almost 9 years ago. Harper’s detrimental influence on the Canadian psyche will be felt for decades after he is removed from power in the 2015 Federal election (my prediction).
Shame and Embarrassment for Canada at Climate Talks
But it’s Canada’s disgraceful performance on environmental stewardship and our reprehensible tactics in international climate talks that are making me ashamed to be Canadian. “Canada’s position on climate change is an embarrassment… the actions of the Canadian government this week at the United Nations Climate Change negotiations in Peru represent the most shocking shift in Canada’s values since this government took office,” reports the Montreal Gazette.
Leehi Yona (named Canada’s Top Environmentalist Under 25 in 2013) is a youth delegate at the Lima COP20 climate change talks. She reports:
While we once were leaders in multilateral diplomacy, Canada is currently referred to as a rogue country at the climate change negotiations…..Our government is backing out of commitments, blocking binding agreements and promoting tarsands expansion as if its extraction and burning didn’t have potentially horrific human-rights implications, in addition to environmental ones. Despite research demonstrating that more than 200 million people worldwide will become refugees as a result of climate change by 2050 if business continues as usual, Canada has been disrupting any potential progress.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is singling out Canada as a country that “needs to stop stalling on setting climate change goals, and instead become ‘ambitious and visionary,’” the CBC reported recently. “It’s only natural that Canada as one of the G7 countries should take a leadership role,” Ban told CBC News Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge. “There are ways to make a transformative change from a fossil fuel-based economy to a climate-resilient economy by investing wisely in renewable energy choices.”
Thus far in Lima, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s performance has been disturbing. On Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a news release:
“Today, Minister Aglukkaq is hosting a discussion in Lima, Peru, to highlight the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge into environmental decision-making. This event will bring together high-level international officials to discuss how traditional knowledge can support the development of successful environmental policies and programs in countries around the world.”
“The press release was a blatant misrepresentation,” says Elizabeth May (Leader of the Green Party of Canada), the only other Parliamentarian attending Lima COP20. The statement also mentioned that “this discussion, held during COP20 in Lima, is being organized and led by Canada.” In fact this so called “discussion” was a private affair held at the Canadian embassy in Lima by invitation only. No details are available. And what does “incorporating traditional knowledge into environmental decision-making” really mean?
During her public statement to the COP, Aglukkaq was arrogant, disrespectful and hypocritical. She stretched her 3-minute time slot to 8 minutes, speaking over the warning bells and reminders that her time had expired. “Our record speaks for itself,” she said. Exactly, it speaks for itself.
Meanwhile back in Canada, the latest 2014 Emissions Trends Report released by Environment Canada shows that we’re on track to miss our 2020 emissions target (set under the Copenhagen Accord) by a wide margin. Our target is for 126 megatonne (MT) reduction while the anticipated reduction will be 10 MT.
Even before Lima COP20, Canada’s ranking as worst performer of all developed countries on climate action should be a disappointment to all Canadians. The 2014 Climate Change Performance Index shows Canada in 58th place out of 61 countries – only Kazakhstan, Iran and Saudi Arabia fared worse.
Canada Accumulates Unachievement Awards
During United Nations climate change negotiations, members of Climate Action Network International (which includes more than 400 NGOs from every region of the world) vote for the country judged to have made the worst input to the negotiations.
In 2007, Canada led all countries in dismal performance at the Bali UN Climate Talks by easily ending up in first place. We achieved this dubious honor by blocking progress at discussions meant to set out the framework for negotiations of the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
At the 2008 Poznan conference, Canada won a record 10 ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards for “blocking progress towards science-based targets. This earned Canada the dishonor of being named the Colossal Fossil as overall Fossil champion at the conference.
Then in 2009 Canada was tagged as ‘Fossil of the Year” at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. The citation called Canada “the absolute worst country at the talks.” This award was added to Canada’s collection of a number of Fossil of the Day awards during the conference.
At the 2011 UN Climate Talks, Canada was ridiculed as having scored a fossil hat trick by winning the first, second and third place fossil awards. The awards were handed to Canada for its “tarry approach to transparency” when Canadian officials conveniently excluded Tar Sands emissions in its most recent National Inventory Report.
Even worse in 2013, after winning the Colossal Fossil award for five consecutive years, Canada was awarded the ‘Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award’ at the Warsaw Climate Talks. Christian Holz, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada observes:
The utter lack of a credible climate policy plan on the part of the Harper government has gone a long way towards undermining Canada’s standing in the world, even as a clear majority of Canadian citizens seek action and leadership on climate change.
History is not likely to be kind to Stephen Harper. “While many politicians are remembered for what they built, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s legacy may have more to do with what he dismantled,” reported Susan Delacourt of TheStar’s Ottawa bureau.
He will be remembered for his war on science and knowledge, the gutting of environmental regulations, research funding cuts, changing Canada from a peace-loving country to a warring nation. But mostly Stephen Harper will be remembered for his fixation on the Tar Sands while the rest of the world was heading in the opposite direction toward a zero-carbon global energy system.
The current federal strategy of trying to increase fossil fuel exports, delay climate action at home and undermine climate policy abroad is a lose-lose proposition. The very recent drop in global oil prices provides a glimpse into what that future could look like for Canada. (Source: ipolitics)
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and an Climate Activist. Rolly has been published in several online publications – Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, Georgian Bay News.