Where talk is cheap, bake sales speak
“Bitumen balls” and “oily” Canada krispies were on sale at the Canadian Youth Delegation booth at the UN Climate Conference in Durban today. We were holding a bake sale to buy back our future, because if dirty oil can buy influence, why can’t we?
After a few days at COP it has become resoundingly clear that Canada is most definitely not negotiating on behalf of its people. Instead it is negotiating on behalf of industries that not only want to keep polluting operations going, but expand them as well. Earlier this week, it was reported that Canada plans to formally pull out of the Kyoto protocol, effectively disregarding any commitments we made to decrease emissions – putting health impacts on Canadians behind industry’s ability to keep tar sands extraction going. Even the one thing that Canada gets better press around at these negotiations, financing for the green climate fund, is not what it seems. The fund is for countries who historically played the biggest role in contributing to climate change, like Canada, to repay some of their debt to those most affected. However, much of the money we’ve committed to is coming from private sources, meaning that it would be more about companies making profits instead of the good of the communities where projects are based.
This is why our bake sale could not have come any sooner. We’ve tried writing letters, meeting with our MPs, creative art projects, media campaigns, and rallies in the streets, but our message is just not getting through. Industry, on the other hand, who make huge profits and sponsor government conferences, seem to have bought our government’s negotiating strategy. Money talks, so with thousands of people dying every year from climate change, it was about time we started speaking their language.
Prior to our bake sale, we were expecting to have to walk around the conference centre and beg other delegates with cute youth pouts to fund our quest for a sustainable future. However, this was far from necessary. Press from Europe, government delegates from many African nations and small island states, as well as trade union and other civil society members were more than happy to contribute. In fact, many of them were thanking us for what we were doing. Most of them were livid about Canada’s actions on behalf of industry, lobbying other countries to weaken their policies too.
The success of our bake sale today was indicative of a sad reality that the lives of people in Canada and around the world speak less to our government than the sweet smell of money mixed with tar. Though, at least now we are a few hundred rand closer to buying back our future. Unfortunately, unlike the oil and gas industry, we don’t have $1.4 billion in annual subsidies to help us get there.
Click here to find out how you can help us buy back our future.