Roadmap of Deflection: Reconstructing the Canadian Delegation’s Talking Points (Part One)

By Maggie Knight

Canada’s Environment Minister brought nothing new to the table today when delivering our national statement to the plenary this afternoon, so instead I’ll tell you about the answers (or non-answers) we’ve been hearing over the last two weeks. Leaving the hostel at 6:30am to get to a briefing with the Canadian Delegation where your questions are rarely answered satisfactorily, you don’t get follow up questions, and the room is frigidly air conditioned isn’t for everyone. Some mornings it really didn’t feel like it was for me. But given that I did get myself there most mornings, the least I can do is make the most of it and try to convey the kind of answers we have been getting. Guy Saint Jacques, described by some as a “negotiator from the Pearson school,” seems a pleasant man. But the answers he gives (and presumably must give) are incredibly frustrating. Here are some examples of questions we have asked and what kind of (often deflective) answers we’ve been given. Forgive the paraphrasing—after nearly two weeks of diplomat-speak, I’m ready to switch it up a little.

Question: What is Canada’s stance on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol?

Apparent Canadian Delegation talking points:

  • Japan is taking a hard line that cannot be reconciled. It is impossible to come to agreement under these circumstances.
  • The Copenhagen Accord is awesome because it includes countries representing 85% of emissions.
  • Canada wants a deal that includes all major emitters.
  • Nobody wants to kill Kyoto, but Canada doesn’t want any targets under Kyoto. No Parties are going to make commitments under the second commitment period at Cancun.

Some of the rebuttal I couldn’t give:

Many countries were coerced into signing the Copenhagen Accord with threats of the withdrawal of adaptation funding. Including nations that encompass 85% of emissions is no good if their emissions reduction pledges are insufficient and not legally binding. Japan by itself is unlikely to be able to block Kyoto by itself (indeed, this morning in plenary Japan said clearly that the conversation on Kyoto will not end in Cancun); nations like Canada play a big (and detrimental) role by standing behind Japan against progress under the Kyoto Protocol. Continuing with Kyoto doesn’t mean that the USA and the emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, etc.) won’t make emission reduction commitments; this kind of language brings into doubt Canada’s commitment to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that is central to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Of course, there’s the larger issue that Kyoto represents years of negotiations and a complicated legal architecture, whereas the Copenhagen Accord is essentially three pages of aspirational language with insufficient and non-binding emissions reductions pledges (check out this morning’s CYD and Climate Action Network Canada press releases).

Question: Do you support the incorporation of the principles of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into the REDD+ text?

Apparent Canadian Delegation talking points:

  • I will have to look into that and get back to you.
  • Canada is satisfied with the current REDD+ text.
  • Canada has the same position as the rest of the Umbrella Group.

Some of the rebuttal I couldn’t give:

This fails to address the numerous concerns about the effects of REDD+ on indigenous peoples’ control of their lands or the Indigenous Peoples Caucus’s proposed safeguards. The dismissive responses indicate that Canada does not take its recent commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seriously.

Question: Will Canada be making its target stronger, given the gigatonne gap between the current pledges under the Copenhagen Accord and what is necessary to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius?

Apparent Canadian Delegation talking points:

  • An emission reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels is ambitious.
  • Canada is regulating the transportation sector by establishing new guidelines for light trucks. Regulations for heavy trucks are in the works.
  • Canada is phasing out coal-fired plants.

Some of the rebuttal I couldn’t give:

17% below 2005 is insufficient according to the science, and it is unreasonable to expect other nations to pick up our slack. Canada is being a laggard even if it is only aiming to fulfil the goals of the Copenhagen Accord for which it expresses so much enthusiasm. The regulations you are implementing are presumably how you achieve the target and thus have little to do with answering the question. These details, while welcome since we have yet to see a comprehensive plan on how the Canadian government will meet its current target, do not change Canada’s degree of ambition or increase its contribution to what must be a global effort. Then there’s the whole issue that the impacts of warming of 2 degrees Celsius are already completely unacceptable if we are to seek any sort of solution that protects the most vulnerable.

Stay tuned for more to come…

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  1. […] Call NOW: Japanese Embassy: 613-241-8541 General email: infocul@embjapan.ca Post your message to the Japanese government: https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html Prime Minister’s Office: (613) 992-4211 Toll Free (ask to be put through to the Prime Minister’s Office): 1 (866) 599-4999 MORE INFORMATION: Brief on the role of Kyoto in Cancun prepared by CYD members earlier this week: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/cyd-statement-on-the-role-of-kyoto-in-cancun/ Political Representatives and Civil Society Groups Demand Canada Support Kyoto Continuation at Cancun Climate Talks (Climate Action Network Canada press release): https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/political-representatives-and-civil-society-groups-demand-canada-support-kyoto-continuation-at-cancun-climate-talks/ Video from yesterday’s press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFbxL2lKF-g Youth Call for Canadian Commitment (Canadian Youth Delegation press release):https://canadianyouthdelegation.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/call-for-commitment.pdf Summary of what we’ve heard about Canada’s stance on Kyoto from our negotiators: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/roadmap-of-deflection-reconstructing-the-can… […]

  2. […] Brief on the role of Kyoto in Cancun prepared by CYD members earlier this week: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/cyd-statement-on-the-role-of-kyoto-in-cancun/ Des leaders politiques et des groupes de la société civile canadienne demandent au Canada d’appuyer la poursuite du protocole de Kyoto (Communiqué de presse du Réseau action climat Canada et d’Équiterre): http://www.equiterre.org/communique/des-leaders-politiques-et-des-groupes-de-la-societe-civile-canadienne-demandent-au-canada Vidéo de la conférence de presse d’hier matin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFbxL2lKF-g Appel de la Jeunesse pour l’engagement du Canada (Communiqué de presse de la délégation de la jeunesse canadienne):https://canadianyouthdelegation.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/communique-de-presses.pdf Summary of what we’ve heard about Canada’s stance on Kyoto from our negotiators: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/roadmap-of-deflection-reconstructing-the-can… […]

  3. […] on behalf of industry that prevents a progressive approach. We need our negotiators to be able to honestly tell us about constructive actions that we are taking. We need not to have to apologize over and […]

  4. […] MORE INFORMATION: Brief on the role of Kyoto in Cancun prepared by CYD members earlier this week: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/cyd-statement-on-the-role-of-kyoto-in-cancun/ Political Representatives and Civil Society Groups Demand Canada Support Kyoto Continuation at Cancun Climate Talks (Climate Action Network Canada press release):https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/political-representatives-and-civil-society-groups-demand-canada-support-kyoto-continuation-at-cancun-climate-talks/ Video from yesterday’s press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFbxL2lKF-g Youth Call for Canadian Commitment (Canadian Youth Delegation press release):https://canadianyouthdelegation.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/call-for-commitment.pdf Summary of what we’ve heard about Canada’s stance on Kyoto from our negotiators: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/roadmap-of-deflection-reconstructing-the-can… […]

  5. […] Brief on the role of Kyoto in Cancun prepared by CYD members earlier this week: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/cyd-statement-on-the-role-of-kyoto-in-cancun/ Des leaders politiques et des groupes de la société civile canadienne demandent au Canada d’appuyer la poursuite du protocole de Kyoto (Communiqué de presse du Réseau action climat Canada et d’Équiterre):http://www.equiterre.org/communique/des-leaders-politiques-et-des-groupes-de-la-societe-civile-canadienne-demandent-au-canada Vidéo de la conférence de presse d’hier matin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFbxL2lKF-g Appel de la Jeunesse pour l’engagement du Canada (Communiqué de presse de la délégation de la jeunesse canadienne):https://canadianyouthdelegation.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/communique-de-presses.pdf Summary of what we’ve heard about Canada’s stance on Kyoto from our negotiators: https://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/roadmap-of-deflection-reconstructing-the-can… […]

  6. […] on behalf of industry that prevents a progressive approach. We need our negotiators to be able to honestly tell us about constructive actions that we are taking. We need not to have to apologize over and […]



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