A good day not to be Canadian…
As a Brit here at the UNFCCC I have complained on multiple occasions that as nice as it is to come from a country that isn’t try to screw up these negotiations, it sometimes leaves me with not much to write about. Along with that as an activist it’s infinitely easier to come up with passion and ideas when you have something to rail against. Diplomatically patting your negotiators on the back for being a bit progressive whilst also trying to yell that the progressive positions they have taken are not good enough can be confusing and well to be honest, not that much fun at times. Sometimes I just wish I came from a country who, here at the UNFCCC, threw me the big scandal stories daily and gave me a chance to get really angry and do a good bit of shouting every now and again.
Of course then I realise I like being British (for the ale if nothing else) and well, it’s nice to think the people who are representing me here are trying their best to sort this mess out. If only once in a while they could give me a little something more to write about…..
But I need not despair today because, luckily for me, this time round the tracker team is pretty small (actually not luckily for me I miss the rest of them!). But it does mean that my fellow trackers are all missing out on following the action of their countries here, and that means I get to play tracker for everyone (yes that’s A LOT of people to run around after…). Today one of them did something pretty spectacular, and as bad as that is for the state of the talks I couldn’t help smiling a little and thinking, YES I finally get an exciting story!
Today Canada gave me my story when they swept the board in the ‘making idiotic statements/I’m trying to screw everything up’ stakes. In the process they took home not 1, not 2, but 3 ‘Fossil of the Day Awards’, traditionally given here at the UNFCCC to any country that really try their hardest to ‘be the best at being the worst’ in the negotiations.
Now Canada are a regular winner of this prestigious award, but still, what on Earth could Canada have done to win quite so many in one day?
First when they did their National Inventory Report on sources of greenhouse gas emissions they conveniently ‘forgot’ to report on one sector. If you know anything about Canada’s energy policy I’ll give you one guess which one…
Yes that’s right when they compiled their report Canada did not include emissions generated by the tar sands! The tar sands, the most environmentally destructive project on the planet and a sector where emissions have close to tripled since 1990. How could they leave out such a crucial sector you may ask?? Well when journalist looked into it they found that emissions from the tar sands were higher than ever last year. Hmmmmm.
But this glaring skewing of numbers was just not enough for Canada today. No Canada today also took home an award for making it official that they WILL NOT take a legally binding target under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Canada’s lack of climate action in the past mean they more than anyone could do with restoring some faith by taking a legally binding target, but today it seems we are finally sure once and for all that this will not be.
Phew that’s a lot of screwing up already!
So what oh what could Canada have done to top all that and deserve one more award? Well here on the 4th day of talks in Bonn, Canada (some may say rather bravely) took to the floor in the LCA mitigation workshops, where countries were going into detail about what their emission reduction commitments actually mean, and point blank refused to acknowledge what everyone else in the entire conference centre knows – that Canada will not meet it’s Kyoto target.
They were repeatedly asked by other countries to own up to this fact, but instead Canada tried to tell us all that they could not possibly know whether they would make their target until the end of the assessment period in 2014.
Once more I was left thinking hmmmmm and with a burning desire to yell out in the room YEAH RIGHT!
As a writer and an activist today presented me with a rare moment of excitement, a story to tell and a feeling of anger to swell my passion. But now sitting down to actually put to paper Canada’s actions I am suddenly a little more melancholy. Because thinking about the tar sands, thinking about there having been absolutely no reductions in emissions in Canada since 1990, thinking about the consequences of this all, thinking about what this means for the rest of us who share our planet with them, is not at all exciting. I’ve never had to write about Canada before, I’ve always had a Canadian tracker sitting next to me who gets the honours. But sitting here writing this today I realise that I may not be Canadian, but what they do here effects me as much as any Canadian. Climate change is a global problem, that no one can opt out of facing up to, or acting on.
So today as Canada try their very best to make a mockery and derail this process I would like to respectfully remind them that when it comes to climate change, we are all Canadian.
Actually screw the respectfully bit, I want to shout it from the rafters and let the whole world know.