CanDel Briefing; A Cluster FCCC in 3 Parts
By Emilie Novaczek
Every morning we join Canadian civil society groups in a briefing with Guy St. Jacques, our lead negotiator at COP. Every morning we receive fairly inconsequential updates on on the policy developments behind closed doors and every morning we ask questions, receive a “politically safe” answer and every morning we leave unsatisfied.
Today was no different. But it was interesting, so here’s the lowdown:
Pt 1: The principle which shall not be named..
St Jacques, when asked about Canada’s position on the possibility of establishing a legally binding climate agreement out of the LCA negotiating track (given our government’s refusal to engage with Kyoto), boldly suggested it’s time to terminate the LCA working group and to retire the Bali Action Plan. Canada, he told us, is looking to establish a completely new agreement in which all parties are subject to the same commitments in order to “level the playing field.”
In his description, Guy St Jacques mentioned the central UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibility only in passing (it has ‘various implications,’ he revealed) and only by its acronym: CBDR. The principle which shall not be named, perhaps? The differences between Voldemort and Kyoto (the document that put CBDR into law) are numerous but they share one crucial quality. They are unique. There is but one dark lord, and only a single legally binding climate agreement.
(ok, so that metaphor wasn’t perfect .. we’re here for climate change folks, choose your battles. I’m also keenly aware that I use commas incorrectly. Get over it.)
Judging by recent statements from Canada’s Environment Minister, Peter Kent, our government is already having severe difficulty understanding the concept and now they can’t even name it? This refusal to acknowledge the very foundation of the UNFCCC process, our own historic responsibility and current capacity to be a leader in the solutions for climate change highlights Canada’s shameful lack of agency and ambition.
Frankly, it’s offensive.
Pt 2: The protocol everyone’s talkin’ about…
As we all know by now, Canada will not be signing onto a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. St Jacques assured us, however, that (despite
the widely accepted rumours allegations), Canada has done nothing to encourage any other country to withdraw from Kyoto or to refrain from establishing targets within the second commitment period.
“Countries can decide what they want to do,” said St Jacques. They can’t however, decide where their aid money comes from. But I digress ..
NOTE: since I wrote this piece, South Africa’s High Comissioner to Canada has come out condemning Canada’s behaviour & revealing that many “vulnerable” countries are reporting that Canada is lobbying them to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol early [read more]
Will Canada withdraw from KP altogether?
“I don’t know. It is not a decision that is taken at my level. We will have to wait and see,” St Jacque confirmed suggestions that the (entire?) negotiation strategy is handed down to the Canadian delegation from on high. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but if the PMO is setting the entire agenda, that means that a few specific people who are not necessarily trained in the issues and implications of climate change are making curcial decisions. It also means the folks calling the shots are not the ones navigating the (heated) political climate as an international pariah. Not a job I would want to have.
(an aside: see what I did there? “heated”? ha… also, for the record, I hate the word pariah)
Pt 3: Procrastination at its most dangerous…
When challenged to define Canada’s concept of a “level playing field,” St Jacques compared a plan for equal targets & gradual implementation to the gradual tariffs established by the WTO and gradual implementation mechanisms in the Montreal Ozone Protocol.
He even gave us a time line for Canada’s negotiating strategy;
We establish a mandate in Durban.
We start negotiating next year.
We conclude negotiations of the new document by 2015.
Implementation (gradual for some countries) begins sometime post 2015.
“I see it including 20-25 countries involved .. 15 or 20 year implementation for a country like India.”
Excuse me? Unfortunately we ran out of time and I couldn’t ask St Jacques exactly how Canada proposes to reconcile this inadequate, low ambition plan with the science. The IPCC has long established that if we are to have at least a 50% chance of avoiding runaway climate change, emissions much peak by 2015. How can our government seriously consider a 25 year action plan acceptable when we’re seeing 350 000 climate related deaths annually and millions more are being displaced from their homes and cultures?
You can submit your questions for Can Del here.
“Thats what we have in mind,” he finished, “If we want to be realistic, we have to come up with this kind of discussion.” Sorry, Guy, but if we want to be realistic we have to recognize the dangerous irresponsibility of this government’s refusal to take action .