BitterSweet

by Nadia Kanji and Kira Lamont

Now well into the first week of negotiations, early morning wake-ups have become a norm. Every morning we wake up, grab a coffee and head off to UN conference centre for the morning Canadian Delegation briefing. As we find our seats and struggle to sort out our thoughts that linger in our heads so early in the morning, updates start flooding in. The bitterness of our coffee is reflected in the bitterness of the realization that today will be no different than yesterday or the day before; or for that matter, than the stance that Canada has been taking at UNFCCC negotiations in the past number of years.

This morning, however, was an exception! Instead of perpetually disappointing dialogue around our domestic policy, we were informed: that in line with statements our minister of the environment made early this month, that in fact climate change is a “real and present danger” and that Canada is, and will, continue to make and meet ambitious targets!!!

So what are these ambitious targets you may ask? For one, “the Government of Canada is making progress towards our ambitious target of reducing Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020”.

What does this actually mean? Given that the majority of other developed countries are using 1990 levels as a  baseline, this actually means a 3% increase.  Clearly this is far from adequate when compared with the reductions required by scientifically-derived emissions pathways.

When observing the dichotomy between the government’s rhetoric with their actions, one can observe quite a hypocrisy. We believe it’s time for the government to redefine their interpretation of the word “ ambition”. Instead of transitioning to a just and sustainable future, it seems the government would rather set it sights low and cater to the interests of oil companies. To put it simply: if we put the same level of ambition that the Canadian government is bringing to the climate negotiations into our schooling, we would have flunked out ages ago.

So tomorrow morning we will take our seats and sip on our coffees. Even though the bitterness of the coffee will once again be reflected in the bitterness of the realization that yesterday is the same as the day before, we will sit there in the hopes that the voices of the youth will one day be echoed through the hallways and embed themselves in the negotiations.

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