Caribbean scientist urges Ottawa to act at Climate Summit

Ottawa – Island states are fighting to survive the devastating effects of global warming while the majority of developed countries drag their heels on taking action, Jamaican-born Professor Albert Binger with the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS) told multiple MPs and diplomats at meetings today.

“Some in the Canadian government see climate change as an inconvenience to its fossil fuel industry, but for us it’s a matter of national survival,” said Professor Binger, former director for the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development and now science and policy advisor to the AOSIS, and energy science advisor of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. “If we don’t heed what the science is telling us, our very existence as a people could be wiped off the map of the world in a relatively short time, and that is why I’m here – to plead for genuine, fair collaboration from Canada next month in Copenhagen.”

Island states are already feeling the effects of global warming, such as flooding and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Low lying states, such as the Pacific Atolls, Maldives and the Bahamas, will end up disappearing almost entirely if significant action is not taken immediately to reduce global warming pollution.

In particular AOSIS is calling on Canada and other developed nations for:

  • Significant emissions reduction based on the latest science, ethics, and economics -not just economics.
  • Dedicated funding to help address the increasing cost of adaptation in island states.
  • Support for an insurance program to address short and long term damages from climate change.
  • Funding for the development of a sustainable energy initiative for small island developing states to help them develop low carbon economies and generate supplemental funding to invest in adaptation to climate change.

“On any given day the federal government picks some other country – China,  India, the US – to blame for Canada walking away from its international commitments to reduce global warming pollution,” said Gillian McEachern of ForestEthics. “But the rest of the world is starting to catch on that Canada is more interested in protecting tar sands expansion than working toward a greener energy future for all.”

Provincial Environment Ministers are in Ottawa today to be briefed by Environment Minister Prentice on Canada’s approach in Copenhagen amid growing controversy this week that has included:

  • The majority of MPs passed a motion in Parliament yesterday that called on Canada to support a science-based target for reducing emissions in the upcoming Copenhagen summit, meaning that the Harper government is not representing the views of the majority in global climate talks.
  • Yesterday, Ontario Premier McGuinty warned that a national cap and trade system must not discriminate against Ontario by allowing its progress on addressing global warming to be used to let other jurisdictions off the hook for reducing emissions, such as those from the expanding tar sands.
  • On Monday, Quebec Premier Charest released the most ambitious target to reduce emissions of any jurisdiction in North America and called on the federal government to act.

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