Crappy COP Confusion – But still confident of Canada’s obstructionist role

It’s the first day of negotiations at the UN COP 16 climate change conference, and the Canadian Youth Delegation wasn’t even able to get into the conference centre. An error in the UN system has left us without our accreditation badges, which are required to actually get into the conference.

It’s pretty hard for us to follow negotiations without access to the conference centre, especially since we have lost internet access at our hostel.

But I’m sure I can guess at what’s happened, and what will happen.

Canada, as usual, will block progress at these negotiations. This is pretty much all the Canadian negotiating team ever does. We’ve won the Colossal Fossil award two years in a row; it’s awarded to the country that does the most over the two weeks of negotiations to block progress by a coalition of over 400 non-government environmental, faith-based, and labour organizations from around the world.

Some things are different this year; Canada has a new negotiator, and a new Environment Minister, but I’m sure we still have the same old policies of blocking progress.

This is typical of our domestic climate policy as well.

For a while the Canadian government has been claiming that we need to “harmonize” with the United States. Meaning we won’t take action on climate change until they lead the way and we can just follow along.

Yesterday it was announced that the US’s Environmental Protection Agency will be regulating industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s government announced that it won’t be following suit. That would require making real policy changes to tackle climate change.

This is part of our government’s years-long history of lying, deceiving, and breaking promises to avoid doing anything about climate change.

When the current government came to power in 2006 they made it clear that they wouldn’t make any attempt to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, and said we needed a made-in-Canada plan to tackle climate change instead.

Around the same time they promised that they would start regulating industrial greenhouse gas emissions in January of this year (2010). I guess they figured no one would remember their promise, kind of like a kid telling his parents he’ll clean his room on the weekend.

Well, the made-in-Canada promise didn’t last long, and lately they’ve been using the “harmonize” with the United States excuse. Until yesterday, that is.

Now that the United States has decided to regulate industrial greenhouse gas emissions Canada will have to think of a new excuse to stall action on climate change.

Over the life of this government they’ve gone through two lead negotiators in the UN climate change negotiating process and three Environment Ministers (and now we’ve cycled back to the second one, John Baird). They’ve also gone through the aforementioned sea of lies and broken promises about climate policies they plan to enact.

The only thing that has been consistent with this government is their real, unspoken policy on climate change; don’t do anything about it, and, when possible, enact policies to make it worse.

In a time when we should starting a serious and swift transition to tackle global warming, our government is subsidizing big oil companies to the tune of $1 billion dollars a year (mostly in tax breaks, and mostly to companies with tar sands investments). This is despite the fact that the federal Department of Finance has recommended that the subsidies and tax breaks are unnecessary, and should end.

We’ve also seen a regular lowering of ambition in our targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Canada was the only country that left the historic UN COP 15 climate change conference in Copenhagen last December with a lower emissions reduction target than when they arrived.

With the killing of the Climate Change Accountability Act in the unelected Senate a few weeks ago (meaning we have no domestic climate legislation), the government’s unspoken policy of supporting oil companies and stalling action on climate change is all we can expect Canada’s negotiating team to bring to the table here in Cancun.

That’s why the Canadian Youth Delegation is here; to bring you updates on our government’s atrocious behaviour, and to do everything we can to keep them accountable and pressure them to actually represent the will of Canadians by taking real action on climate change.

With a little luck we’ll get our accreditation badges tomorrow, and will be able to bring you front-line updates from inside the UN conference.

Wish us luck.

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