Newswire: Harper vs. Commonwealth on binding climate change resolution

Canada and Australia are the only countries among the Commonwealth’s 53 members that oppose the wording of a climate change communique that would specify that all members support a ‘binding…

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  1. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Commonwealth was a prominent opponent of the apartheid regime in South Africa. In the 1960s, Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru led a joint effort that read South Africa out of the Commonwealth. In the 1980s, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney rebuffed efforts by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan to dilute sanctions until South Africa really began to reform and democratize in a genuine and determined way.  Commonwealth suspended Nigeria for 3 years after the 1995 hanging of the activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Zimbabwe was suspended from Commonwealth in 2002. 
    The Commonwealth allows for member countries to be suspended for Human Rights abuses, but ignores the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on some of the poorest countries in the world. The definition of serious violations should embrace much more than it does now.
    But present Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s foreign and domestic policy has fulfilled the hopes of US conservatives. In 2007 Canadin Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with Australian  Prime Minister John Howard has successfully blocked more than 50 Commonwealth countries that were seeking a climate change resolution that would force industrialized countries to adopt a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s lack of action on climate change is contributing to droughts, floods and sea level rises in small island states and vulnerable commonwealth countries such as Maldives, Bangladesh, and Mozambique. Canada’s emissions have risen by more than 25% between 1990 and 2007. Canada is at the bottom of the G8 league table for action to tackle climate change. Canadians consumes far more than their fair share of petroleum and owe a debt to developing countries of the Commonwealth for the impact of their emissions on the climate. Canada is getting away with climate crimes that are destroying homes and livelihoods of the people live in developing countries of the Commonwealth. Present Canadian government continues to support for the extraction of oil from Alberts tar sands, a process which is 3 times as damaging to the climate than extracting conventional oil. Extracting millions of barrels of dirty oil from Alberta tar sands and abandoning the Kyoto treaty is not the behaviour of a responsible commonwealth country and Canada should be suspended from Commonwealth immediately. Canada’s complete failure to cut its emissions is making the global situation worse. If the Commonwealth countries are serious about holding their members to account, then they should suspend Canada immediately since it is threatening the lives of millions of people in developing Commonwealth countries. Unless Canada is willing to stop blocking international climate negotiations through its continued support for the Alberta tar sands, Canada should withdraw its membership with Commonwealth. The Commonwealth should hold Canadian government to a higher standard. 
    – Nalliah Thayabharan

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