Can’t stop talking about Kyoto..

We’ve been talking a lot this week about Kyoto, amidst reports that our government is blocking a second commitment period (but not officially admitting that stance) and developing countries laying down an ultimatum, saying that if Annex 1 (developed nations) don’t make the first step on climate change, as we promised, they won’t move forward on their own commitments. In fact, they may walk away from the entire process.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our dedication to Kyoto is crucial. It’s not a perfect piece of policy, and there is miles of room for us to make much needed changes. However, the fact is that simply existing puts Kyoto years, maybe a decade, ahead of any other option. Remember how long it took to agree on this? Reaching consensus between some 200 countries is not a swift process. And the Copenhagen Accord is by no means a replacement; it contains voluntary commitments (which mean just about nothing), leaves us about 9 gigatonnes short of the reductions required by the  IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AND many countries were coerced into agreeing to it based on (as yet unmet) promises of large scale international aid.

But, I digress… The CYD has many more opinions & reasons for supporting (or not?) the Kyoto Protocol.

“Canada is saying that developing countries will not walk away from the table if developed nations refuse to continue under Kyoto because they are too concerned about receiving financing and technology transfer. Canada is being a bully on the international stage and expecting compromise from others without being cooperative in return. This is exactly the kind of coercion that proves the Copenhagen Accord is completely illegitimate.”

Maggie Knight, 21, Victoria, BC

“It took nearly 20 years of efforts and international meetings since the Rio Summit. In Cancun, we cannot decide to stop everything, start over, and take a decade or two to negotiate a new accord. Time is pressing!”

Catherine Gauthier, 21, Mont-Saint Hilaire, QC

“We need Kyoto because it is the only way that we can get anywhere close to scientifically identified targets in time. Without it, we won’t be able to make a new agreement for another 15 years, by which time it will be way too late. Runaway climate change is fast approaching, and we don’t have time for more negotiations, we need to act. Fast.”

Robin Tress, 20, Berry, ON

“The Kyoto Protocol is far from a perfect solution – it still commits millions of people to death or displacement due to human induced climate change and promotes mechanisms that undermine the rights of indigenous and other marginalized communities. However, Kyoto is a compromise which nations from around the world, including Canada, have committed to. It acknowledges that the over-developed countries, who have emitted 76% of historical emissions, need to be the first to start transitioning off of fossil fuels. Abandoning this commitment that we made so we can put off action and continue polluting is not only completely irresponsible, it is equivalent to saying that the lives of millions upon millions are dispensable.”

Tasha Peters, 19, Calgary, AB

“The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding international agreement ever created to address the issue of climate change. While it is not without difficulties, this treaty represents nearly two decades of hard work at the UN, and is currently the only viable base for legally binding commitments to reduce emissions from developed countries.  Kyoto respects the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ which states that developed countries must take responsibility for historical emissions and take action first.  If the Kyoto framework is thrown out, it will set back negotiations for many years to come and prevent the necessary peaking of global emissions by 2015 required by the IPCC.  Kyoto should not be used as an excuse for developed countries like Canada to avoid climate action.”

Adam Scott, 28, Toronto

“It is difficult to imagine that the Kyoto Protocol has been discussed, negotiated and debated for most of my life. What’s even more difficult to imagine is that countries like Canada are willing to throw away years of hard work and international compromise simply so that they can further delay committing to a binding deal that would require them to seriously take on their fair share of responsibility. How will I explain this negligence to my children and grand-children? Many of the negotiators threatening to kill Kyoto will no longer be here to provide an answer, and I’ll be left feeling as if I’ve failed my family and humanity as a whole. “

Lena Phillips, 24, Charlottetown, PE

“There is so much work to be done in responding to climate change. If governments turn their backs on the Kyoto Protocol it could be years before another legally binding treaty can be negotiated and ratified. We don’t have this kind of time! Around the world and in Canadian communities we are already feeling the impacts of climate change, and the potential future repercussions for non-action are dire. We need to remind our leaders that extending the Kyoto Protocol is a vital first step, and they owe it to us, the young and future generations to do so.”

Holly Goulding, 28, Whitehorse, YK

“We don’t need the Kyoto Protocol. We already had one of those, and our government has decided to ignore it. No global treaty or any other fancy piece of paper is going to stop global warming. We need to stop burning fossil fuels to stop global warming. Canada and other developed countries need to start immediately on a transition off of fossil fuels, and we don’t need to wait for any global treaty to begin this necessary process. The UN is talking about keeping global warming to under 2 degrees celsius, but average annual temperatures in the Northwest Territories have already increased by 2.5 degrees since the 1950s. This warming is harming our communities and destroying our cultures. My family traps for income, and hunts for food. Our ability to practice our culture and provide for our families is already being impacted by climate change. These impacts are only getting worse while governments waste time jet-setting around the world to talk big about what they should do. Stop wasting time. No more oil, coal, or gas.”

Daniel T’seleleie, 28, Fort Good Hope, NWT

“Although some of us may be fortunate enough to reside in the Canadian lands, we cannot forget the families and friends we left behind us, It is our duty to work in solidarity to bring justice and save the rest of our nation in our homelands and everywhere else in the world. Kyoto Protocol is the only legally biding treaty that will speak for the voices that cannot be heard from thousands miles away, it is the only space that will bring a fair solution to the non-developed countries. We are short on time and we’ve lost far too many brothers and sisters to wait for another treaty. Today i am inquiring that developed countries stop procrastinating and STOP trying to find a way out of a second commitment to Kyoto protocol in loving memory of everyone who is gone due to climate change impacts, the ones that did not survive to fight for climate Justice. All eyes on you negotiators, Open your eyes and see all desperate lives counting on you to bring Justice to the people.”

Arielle Kayabaga, London, ON

“As a young scientist, I recognize that the current KP doesn’t go far enough, and as a young person, I am incredibly alarmed about our future. If we get rid of the Kyoto Protocol, we set the global community’s efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions back many years, as we struggle to pull together a new agreement in time. Keeping Kyoto doesn’t mean developing countries and the US won’t take action – but it does ensure that the countries signed on the Protocol will, and will do so now, rather than waiting the years it would take to develop a new legal framework from scratch. Furthermore, it means that Canada will be held to account on our climate action record. If we reject the continuing application of the Kyoto Protocol, it will be all too easy for Canada to slip out of our commitments from the first period. We need to show the global community that we are serious about reducing emissions, and supporting the Kyoto Protocol is one of the best ways to do that. Canada needs to commit to a strong agreement during the next commitment period, and we need to keep our word.”

Thea Whitman, 24, White Rock, NS

“Today, our Environment Minister said that because Kyoto expires in 2012, we have “plenty of time” to come to a new agreement. I’m not sure what planet he’s living on, but the planet that we are living on is getting hotter by the second. Climate change isn’t going to pause while our governments bicker. The Kyoto Protocol commits our governments to take action, and action is necessary now.”

Marie-Marguerite Sabongui, 26, Montreal, QC

“We need Kyoto because we need a legally binding treaty and we have to have it before 2015. Kyoto’s the only game in climatetown.”

Jonathan Williams, 22, Halifax, NS

“The Kyoto Protocol is both a bond and a bridge- a bond that tells developing countries that developed countries are serious about taking action at home, and a bridge between now and the beginning of the larger, stronger deal we are all working towards. We are already standing at the edge of a cliff, and with no Kyoto, the ground underfoot will start to crumble. We need to bridge the gap, and build bonds of trust to get to the other side of the climate crisis.”

Jennifer Dagg, 26, Elora, ON

“Simply put, the Kyoto Protocol provided room for further negotiations that could not have existed otherwise. It crystallized that the historical responsibility of the developed world would not be forgotten as developing nations pursued the same standard of living we continue to enjoy. Without the trust that developing nations won’t be shackled with poverty to help ameliorate the problem we created, they obviously won’t participate. That’s foundational, to the point where we can kiss co-operative action goodbye as soon as we start thinking in terms of everyone committing to reductions. The Kyoto Protocol commits our governments to act, so that other governments can feel safe in doing so.”

Lars Boggild, 19, Vancouver, BC

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