Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Canadian government must be at historic climate conference in Bolivia

Council of Canadians

The Council of Canadians wants to know whether the Canadian government has plans to send a high-level delegation to the upcoming Climate Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 19-22. The organization is asking for a positive and public response to the Bolivian government’s invitation to the upcoming international conference.

“Canadians deserve to know what the Canadian government’s plans are on this critical global issue – is Canada going to be at the table, or not? Unfortunately, the Canadian government is becoming well known for its failure to participate productively to achieve meaningful international action on the climate crisis, Canadians deserve and expect better than this,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

The participation of government representatives from more than 50 countries at the Cochabamba climate conference includes the majority of ‘Least Developed Countries’ (LDCs) whose populations will be most vulnerable to climate change, as well as France, Russia and Spain.

The Council of Canadians has sent the Prime Minister an open letter requesting a public response on the Canadian government’s plans for the event which starts in less than two weeks time.

“While the Canadian government talks about becoming a ‘clean energy superpower’ and promotes its support for the weak Copenhagen Accord, the truth is, we have become an eco-outlaw,” says Harden-Donahue. “Ongoing expansion in the tar sands, failing to adequately fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, setting a target that will actually amount to an increase above 1990 emission levels by 2020, this all flies in the face of the type of commitments being discussed in Cochabamba. This is why our government needs to be present, hear what is being said, and commit to radically changing course.”

Conference aims include discussing a global referendum on climate change, a ‘rights-based’ approach to the climate crisis and agreeing on new commitments to be negotiated within the United Nations process. This includes demanding emission reduction targets in line with climate science. It includes greater responsibility on the part of developed countries that have disproportionately contributed to the crisis, creating “climate debt” owed to the global South.

The Copenhagen Accord, a product of backroom negotiations between a handful of countries, fails to deliver effective international action. While the Bolivian government has advocated keeping warming well below the frequently referenced 2 degree target, pledges submitted under the weak Copenhagen Accord could reportedly lead to a 3.9 degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures. Bolivia is already experiencing the effects of climate change with melting glaciers and water shortage threats in mountainous regions.

Unlike the Copenhagen negotiations in December, which saw civil society representatives increasingly shut out, this conference is advancing an agenda led by civil society organizations working with governments. Over 10,000 people are expected to participate including prominent individuals, representatives of civil society movements and organizations, and over 1000 international journalists.

For more information, contact:
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685;

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