Understanding the Canadian Youth Delegation’s Policy Position
Amara Possian with Marie-Marguerite Sabongui
After several weeks of hard work, the Canadian Youth Delegation is very excited to announce the release of the CYD policy statement. Policy is one of the most central but daunting aspects of the UN climate change negotiations and we have done our best to ensure that the descriptions and recommendations in our statement are very clear and comprehensive. In addition to the CYD’s position, the statement provides a summary, a description of areas of contention, and the perspective of the Canadian government for each major issue.
In this post, I will give you a quick rundown of the key components of the CYD’s policy position but if you would like to delve into the details, you are highly encouraged to check out the full document here.
As usual, Canada has arrived at the negotiations empty handed. Just over a week ago the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311), Canada’s only piece of climate legislation, was killed in the unelected Senate without debate. A couple of weeks before that, Minister of Environment Jim Prentice resigned. His replacement, the interim Environment Minister John Baird, has a rough track record when it comes to climate policy. The Liberal Environment Critic, Gerard Kennedy, was only appointed very recently in September 2010. Furthermore, lead negotiator, Guy Saint-Jacques called the entire UNFCCC process into question last week. Things aren’t looking so bright for Canada.
But it’s not all bad. Several developed and developing countries are taking steps toward meeting their international commitments. Norway has $1 billion partnerships with Indonesia and Brazil to prevent deforestation. South Africa has gone above and beyond expectations for developing countries by setting hard targets for emissions reductions. The Australian coalition government is working on a climate bill as we speak.
By committing to and implementing responsible climate policy, Canada can still redeem its reputation on the international stage:
- Canada must stop waiting for the US and pressuring other governments to dilute their climate policy in the interest of economic gain.
- Despite the fact that Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, Canadian emissions have risen drastically above 1990-levels. Canada must adopt aggregate emissions reductions targets of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in a fair, binding and ambitious climate agreement, supported by strong domestic legislation.
- Canada must take international responsibility and slow the development of the Tar Sands, an enormous source of greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution that jeopardizes biodiversity.
- Canada must support the establishment of an International Adaptation Fund managed in a sovereign, transparent and equitable manner. Canada must fairly contribute to this fund for the most vulnerable populations who are most often least responsible for emissions. This funding must be new and additional to existing development assistance, and must be in the form of grants, not loans.
- Mechanisms to protect forests, which naturally absorb greenhouse gas emissions, should not be profit-driven. When developing a mechanism to protect forests Canada must support the inclusion of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as these populations are often dependent on forests for their livelihoods.
- Canada must accept international standards for the proper measurement, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions from all sources including forestry, agriculture and emissions from aviation and marine travel.
- Canada must provide its fair share of essential context-appropriate clean-energy technologies for global development, and not leave this critical task in the hands of private initiatives.
Our policy team will be tracking Canadian policy throughout the negotiations so keep an eye on our blog!