Cancun Climate Agreement Raises Temperature on Harper

wc_banner_logo_0.pngVancouver – Expectations were low that any form of agreement would be reached at the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, but in a surprise turn of events a “package” of climate policies was agreed upon by most countries. The package was presented to delegates on the last day of the summit.

Canada was awarded the “fossil of the year” award by a coalition of international environmental groups, which pegged the Canadian delegation as the worst participant in the convention. This is Canada’s fourth consecutive year receiving the “award.”

“Pressure is increasingly on the Harper government for Canada to play a responsible role in the world,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “For Canada to switch from increasing to decreasing our emissions, we would need to switch the tar sands from growing to shrinking – it’s just that simple,” said West.

The Cancun package focuses mostly on raising funds for various climate-related programs, such as a proposed “Green Climate Fund” which is intended to raise and disburse $100-billion a year by 2020 to protect poor nations against climate impacts and assist them with low-carbon development. The agreement does not include any new binding emissions reduction targets due to the obstruction of Canada and other countries.

Delegates from major climate-changing pollution emitters like China, the United States and the EU are agreeing that this draft plan could be the basis of a new agreement to be signed at the next UN Conference, COP17 in South Africa in 2011. The proposal presented in Cancun may lead to the abandonment of the existing Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with a new treaty.

Not all countries were pleased with the results in Cancun. Bolivia’s chief negotiator, Pablo Solon, told delegates the proposal would be the equivalent of “ecocide” because it fails to set any further emission reduction targets and therefore would not keep CO2 within safe levels.

The Wilderness Committee is calling on people to not wait for world leaders to reach a binding agreement but instead to refocus their efforts locally on the sources of climate change, like banning oil tankers off the coast of BC and stopping the proposed Raven Coal mine in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.

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