By Hannah McKinnon | Climate Action Network Canada
Sunday, December 02, 2012
The current Government of Canada has taken a reckless approach to climate change, one of the greatest and urgent challenges of our time. Despite the fact that the impacts of climate change have become increasingly obvious, intense and costly, the government has failed to take this crisis seriously.
As the world gathers at the DOHA 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, the world is witnessing Canada's climate fail.
What follows lays out simply the government’s record of failure on climate change over the past years.
#1: Canada is breaking funding promises and leaving poorer countries to tackle climate change on their own.
Canada was awarded the first place fossil of the day on November 28, 2012 in Qatar for Environment Minister Peter Kent’s dismissive approach to supporting climate action in poorer countries.
In media interviews yesterday, Minister Kent confirmed Canada’s intention not to contribute new funding in Doha to help poorer countries tackle climate change, saying that Doha “isn’t a pledging conference.”
In a letter to civil society groups, Minister Kent said that Canada does not support providing funding for emission reductions through the new Green Climate Fund – a fund that has been a major accomplishment of recent UN climate talks – until “a new agreement applicable to all…can be adopted by all parties.”
Last year’s negotiations in Durban gave countries until 2015 to reach this agreement, which will not go into effect until 2020 – so Minister Kent’s position could mean that Canada delays contributing dollars to the Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries reduce their emissions until 2020.
“Canada’s poor showing tackling climate change at home makes it even more important for them to show leadership in helping others,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “The government could rebuild trust and do itself and its international reputation a favour by stepping up and committing its fair share to help countries who didn’t cause climate change deal with its devastating impacts.”
In Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries (including Canada) committed to provide both short term and long term financing to help developing countries adapt to the consequences of a warming planet and to reduce their own emissions.
Canada did contribute to the first installment of climate financing under the 2010-2012 “fast start” period. But with the first phase coming to a close, developed countries are expected to commit to providing post-2012 funding in Doha, to ensure that developing countries are not left alone to face the consequences of a problem they did little to create. Other major developed countries, including the U.S., have indicated that they plan to announce new funding soon for the next phase of climate financing.
The Fossil of the Day is a long-standing tradition in the UN climate talks and is voted on and awarded by an international network of over 800 civil society organizations. It is presented daily to the country or countries that do the most to undermine global efforts to address climate change. The text of the satirical award was presented as follows:
Canada caps support rather than emissions
“Newsflash! This just in from the Canadian Environment Minister! Developing countries need to just take a deep breath and wait until we have an all-in global deal before they should expect any support from Canada to move towards a clean energy future through the Green Climate Fund. In talking to reporters yesterday, Canada’s environment minister took a moment to tell journalists that he would ‘make it clear’ at the meetings in Doha that developing countries shouldn’t expect more money towards climate financing from Canada, because after all, Doha “isn’t a pledging conference.”
Thanks for clearing that up Minister! We are sure that that will do wonders for your stellar credibility and reputation at these talks. Thankfully the Minister IS coming to Doha with at least one commitment: Canada is still firmly committed that tar sands emissions will rise far beyond the 2 degree climate limit.
World to Canada: You are supposed to be ramping finance up and emissions down; not the other way around!”
The Canadian government confirmed its worsening reputation as an international laggard on climate change when it became the first and only country to formally withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011. Developing country diplomats likened this move to a slap in the face to the world’s most vulnerable people, an insult which was made worse by the Canadian government refusing to confirm the rumor of their withdrawal until after the end of the annual UN climate conference, confirming that they had been negotiating in bad faith throughout the critical conference.
For the past five years, the Government of Canada has been awarded the ‘Fossil of the Year’ at the United Nations climate change negotiations. This award is given by Climate Action Network International, a global coalition of more than 400 organizations, to the country that has maintained the worst negotiating position at the global climate change talks.
Canada’s only major federal program to support energy efficiency and renewable energy died with the 2012 budget after a consistent decline in support since this government took power. Canada is falling behind in the clean energy economy. Canada was recently ranked last among G8 countries in terms of its clean energy investments, see: Green economy “mega trend” sweeping planet
The federal government is also failing to take into consideration evidence and research that indicates that it is critical for the government to encourage and support more economic diversification and avoid tying our economy so dominantly to natural resources at the expense of other sectors of the Canadian economy. For more information see: In the Shadow of the Boom: How oilsands development is reshaping Canada’s economy.
The federal government has systematically slashed funding and support for government research and scientists that generate evidence that raises concern related to rapid tar sands expansion and climate change. In 2012 the government killed the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment, an arms length advisory body set up by another Conservative government in the mid-90’s, because, as members of the cabinet confirmed, the government did not like the organization’s advice on putting a price on carbon and acting on climate change. They have also eliminated support for renowned scientific research programs such as the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science.
In early 2012 Canadian scientists published an open letter and did high profile media interviews articulating the ways in which they were being muzzled by the federal government. Scientists also recently held a very well attended protest on Parliament Hill to mark the ‘Death of Evidence’ in federal government policy making.
For more information see: Canadian government is 'muzzling its scientists' and New report details government actions that undermine research into the science of climate change
The current government has established an “Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy” in the Department of Foreign Affairs and federal officials are systematically working to weaken clean energy and climate change policies in other countries in order to promote the interests of oil companies. At least three specific cases where federal government officials act as the lobbying arm of the oil industry have already been identified (California’s low-carbon fuel standard, a U.S. federal clean fuels policy known as Section 526, and the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive), though there is reason to believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that the government is also attacking clean energy policies in other jurisdictions.
The federal government has also been explicit in its aggressive lobbying to limit and diffuse any concern or opposition to proposed pipelines that would serve unfettered and unregulated tar sands expansion. The most well known of these proposed pipelines are the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and megatanker project and the Enbridge Trailbreaker (line 9) tar sands pipeline. Each of these pipelines is facing formidable public opposition.
For more information see: Dirty Oil Diplomacy: The Canadian Government’s Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands
The current government provides over $1.3 billion in handouts to the oil industry every year, despite calls to end these subsidies from within the Department of Finance, former Environment Minister Jim Prentice, hundreds of organizations across Canada and major international organizations like the IMF and the OECD as well as PM Harper’s G20 commitment to stop these subsidies. Recent federal budgets have done virtually nothing to eliminate these hand-outs.
For more information, see: Fuelling the Problem: Why it is time to end tax breaks to oil, coal and gas companies in Canada
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