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Canada Makes Headlines in ECO, a NGO Newsletter

11 Dec

This is taken directly from ECO, an NGO newsletter made available at the COP conference:

Canada’s government must be working overtime chatting up reporters here in Copenhagen. The news they’re so eager to spread is that, according to Yvo de Boer, Canada has been “negotiating very constructively” this week.

The Canadian delegation is obviously as surprised as we are that anyone has good things to say about Canada, the home of one of the weakest mid-term emission targets in the industrialized world.

It cannot be Canada’s record on Kyoto compliance that impressed the UNFCCC’s chief official. (In case anyone has forgotten: Canada’s emissions are now a solid 34% above that pesky Kyoto target.) The lack of financing pledge probably hasn’t won Canada any new friends either.

We also doubt de Boer was impressed by Canada’s decision to show up in Copenhagen without a serious plan for domestic emissions reductions. (Note to Canada: “waiting for the US” is not actually a plan. Nor is “massively expanding the tar sands.”)

But maybe the Executive Secretary was just anticipating even worse behaviour with the arrival of Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice this weekend. That would be the environment minister who recently vowed not to “be a Boy Scout” at the negotiating table, and swore not to “panic” when faced with the “hype and drama” of Copenhagen. In other words, the world better get used to Canada being the laggard.

This is the same Minister who dismissed a reduction target of 25% below 1990 levels for 2020 in Canada as “divisive” and “irresponsible” – even though a study has shown that Canada could meet this target while growing its economy by over 20% and creating nearly two million net new jobs.

If this is what constructive looks like, we’d hate to see destructive.

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Tar Sands Debrief

11 Dec

Hi Everyone: Today UWSP’s Tyler, Sylvie, Julia, Emily and Elaine attended the Canadian Youth Delegation meeting. Sylvie and Tyler have taken on a new task for spreading the word about Tar Sands in Canada. We will be printing questions such as “Why isn’t Canada pushing for an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen?” and “Why is Steven Harper opposed to Canadian action on climate change?” All of these questions that will be printed with a black tar stained maple leaf will (hopefully) be placed on every party seat in the Plenary and also on media seats – and actually everywhere possible! We want the global community to know Canada is embarrassing the people and not properly representing us on the international stage.

Here is a debrief to help you all better understand what the tar sands are and how they are TARNISHING our image. [This is taken from an email sent to me in order to have the proper knowledge when doing this project]

“Although only currently accounting for 5% of Canada’s emissions, the tar sands are the single largest contributor to growth in emissions and single largest source of projected new emissions. Tar sands emissions have increased more than 200% since 1990 and — if not regulated properly — will account for 12% of Canada’s emissions in2020, an increase of over 44% from 2006. Environment Canada has estimated that, per unit of output, GHG emissions from oil sands mining and upgrading are about five times greater than those from conventional light/medium crude oil production. They are the number one reason Alberta and Canada’s emissions are rising instead of falling….. with South Africa’s new emissions-intensity target that they announced last week, they have a more ambitious plan for reducing emissions than Alberta.

Carbon-capture and storage (CCS) is problematic for three reasons… (1) It is an expensive technology, both because it is new, and because it carries major energy and infrastructure costs. Not all areas have the suitable geology and sound regulation needed to minimize environmental risk. (2) CCS should only be considered as part of a portfolio of solutions,and adequate attention also must be paid to more sustainable, low-impact energy solutions, especially renewable energy and energy efficiency. Public investment in CCS must not come at the expense of the public investment needed to ensure a massive scale-up of energy efficiency and low-impact renewable energy production. For example, the federal government is not renewing the Eco-energy program for renewable energy and are spending 14 times less per capita on renewable energy than President Obama. While at the same time, the Alberta and Canadian governments have given over $2billion in CCS research, development, and deployment… this is “corporate welfare” for tar sands companies who are comfortably profiting… these corporations will then likely get the Intellectual Property Rights to this technology and then make even more while selling the technology to developing countries. (3) It will not significantly reduce emissions from Alberta’s tarsands. While it can reduce emissions from coal-fired power generation by90%, it will only reduce emissions from tar sands processing by 10% to30%. Alongside its contribution to climate change, the tar sands have significant negative ecological (particularly on water resources and boreal forests) and human/social effects (particularly on local indigenous communities). Industry does not currently have a way to deal effectively with tailings, the lakes of toxic waste produced from oil sands development. Tar sands production also requires substantial consumption of water and natural gas, consuming relatively clean resources to produce dirty, bottom of the barrel synthetic oil. Many indigenous communities downstream from the tar sands are being impacted adversely by tar sands development and have experienced adverse health impacts and disruption to their traditional ways of life. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/oil-sands-emissions-polluting-waterways-study-finds/article1392239/) The CYD supports an immediate moratorium on further Tar Sands development (with support for affected workers) until its emissions profile, ecological consequences, and human/social effects are resolved.”

Canada Beats Around the Bush at Delegation Meeting

11 Dec

Every morning there are meetings where Canadians are able to meet with Michael Martin, Canada’s Lead Negotiator at COP15. Today Tyler, Sylvie and Emily from UWSP attended this meeting in order to get some more insight as to what is going on with Canada and why we aren’t saying anything. Our goal was to hear first hand why the government of Canada is not speaking up and what their plans are in terms of meeting commitments.

The meeting today was similar to most meetings that occur with our government – UNANSWERED AND OPEN-ENDED. Many questions were asked from a variety of youth and press. The youth put pressure on the government, but in all cases they were ignored with the annoying use of jargon coming from Mr. Martin. A key question that was asked was: Are Canada’s Current Targets Good Enough? [In regards to the melting of the ice caps and 2050]. Michael Martin answered – or didn’t answer – with a vague statement by saying, “I am not a scientist.” He went on to say that there are a group of scientists that provide recommendations to the delegation and give them the “scientific facts”, but would not answer the question whether or not Canada’s targets will have a negative effect on the earth by 2050. Caroline, a CYD delegate then attempted a different strategy by asking what the scientists have to say about our emission targets. He avoided the question by using governmental jargon. Mike Martin continued to say that it isn’t OUR problem, it is the global community’s problem. He repeatedly stated that Canada will step up only if other countries [AKA the United States] also start making decisions. It is obvious that Canada is not a leader and we as the youth at this COP are embarrassed by Canada’s lack of positive actions.

There are podcasts available so that you can hear what Michael Martin has to say. These will be posted shortly on the Canadian Youth Delegation website, http://cydcopenhagen.org/?cat=5 There are previous podcasts from the week which are also available on this website.