Urgent Call to Canadians: Every Minute Counts

It is 4:08 am in Bali, Indonesia. There are only a few hours left in these historic climate negotiations but Canada is blocking an emerging agreement. We can’t let it happen. We need to call the Prime Minister’s Office before 6pm EST – the sooner the better.

The problem:

The talks here are stalled. In an ad-hoc working group of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, only one country is holding out against citing the 25-40% reductions (from 1990 levels) in greenhouse gases that industrialized countries need to make before 2020. That country is Canada. They are preventing inclusion of the targets that the science demands for the survival of the planet. They are watering down this potentially historic pact.

How we solve it: 

The situation is critical, and it’s literally a matter of hours. The Bali agreement could be a step towards stopping dangerous climate change. But if Canada prevents strong targets from being included in the negotiations, we’ll have few concrete results from the work we have been agonizing over for two weeks. Help us get Canada to stop blocking the talks!

If we can put enough pressure on the Canadian Government Delegation here in Bali, they may just change their behaviour. They cannot get away with their tactics if they know their citizens are paying attention.

Call. It will make a real difference. It will make real action on climate change a priority for this government. We can turn the tide in Bali.

What you do:

If you can afford it, call the direct cell phone of the Prime Minister’s representative here in Bali. His name is Dimitri Soudas, and you can reach him on 011 62 85 857 032 037. He needs to hear what Canadians really think.

Or, if the long distances charges are a bit much, call the Prime Minister’s Office at 613 992 4211, and ask to be connected to Mr. Soudas, or the Prime Minister himself.

What you say:

Canada needs to stop blocking the negotiations, so the world can make real progress in Bali!

For more background information, go to www.climateactionnetwork.ca

This request is brought to you by people sitting at their computers all through the night in Bali – mostly members of the Canadian Youth Delegation (www.cydbali.org), a project of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, working alongside the Climate Action Network Canada. Please distribute widely.

Canadian Government Slights UN Audience

Cross-posted from It’s Getting Hot in Here – dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday December 11, 2007
NUSA DUA, INDONESIA-

A United Nations audience was left in a lurch during a Tuesday evening event hosted by the Canadian government at the ongoing UN climate talks in Bali, Indonesia.

Youth delegates joined a large audience anxiously awaiting the Minister of the Environment’s address on the Canadian climate change plan. To the dismay of all in attendance, no delegates from Canada’s government came to present the policy, and the audience was instead left to listen as Canadian industry representatives showcased new “clean” technologies.

panel.jpg

The audience was only informed during the event that the Minister would not be speaking about his highly touted ‘Turning the Corner’ plan. “The side event was publicized as being a presentation of their policies, but nobody talked about this at all. Not the Minister or a representative,” said Genevieve Gilbert, 22 from Ottawa.

The industry panel presenters were forced to field questions, and had to attempt to explain the Ministers’ absence. One presenter later expressed that he “felt hung out to dry.”

According to Adrianna Hoogenboom, 23, from Ottawa, “Baird arrived in flip flops, surveyed the room quickly and left after his handlers berated the conference staff for the quality of the sound system.”

youth.jpgKatrina Genuis, age 18, from Edmonton said, “I came to engage with my government and they did not have the courage to present their plan and justify it, I found it disrespectful to the UN audience as well as to the presenters.’

Sentiments following the meeting echoed this frustration, and comments overheard included, “I am not even Canadian and I find this embarrassing.”

Although the overall message of the Canadian government has been disappointing, youth will seize the opportunity to hold their government accountable. “Youth will be stepping up our actions during these last three days of the conference. Canadians have a right to know about their government’s dismal performance in Bali,” summarized Rosa Kouri, 24 from Saskatoon.

Contact info:www.cydbali.org e-mail: media@cydbali.orgMedia phone: +62 (0) 81337949749

Frustration and hope at COP13

by EMILY LAWRENCE

Decisions, decisions, decisions! – as an Australian Youth Delegate, decisions play an integral part in our functioning – as opportunities arise, equally as many decisions must be made. Who will present when, who will meet who, who will do what? Today, an AYD verdict allowed me the opportunity to participate in a meeting with the COP13 UNFCCC President – Mr Witoelar, the purpose for which was unsure. Delegates from 5 regions discussed our meeting tactics and formulated some form of plan for our 15 minute contact with this influential figurehead! Expecting a private conversation with the president where we could present our views as representatives of youth and generally engage in an important dialogue, the meeting turned out to be more so publicity stunt for the president who smiled agreeably for the cameras and said uncontroversial statements about the need for “the world to do more”. Although the meeting was staged more so as a photo-opp than anything with real bite, it was a significant milestone to be allowed to meet with him and important in the promotion of the International Youth Climate Network, a global youth partnership in conception at COP13.

Of late, there has been a feeling of intense frustration within the youth caucus – while the fate of our world hangs on the line, negotiators and decision makers seem intent on creating innumerable obstacles to prevent progress in the negotiations. Among others creating controversy, Japan threw a spanner in the works of immense proportions when it announced that we must “move beyond Kyoto”, that is – to throw in the towel and take even bigger backward steps from saving our planet. Amongst this bureaucracy, the youth have been attempting to maintain our hope and sense of empowerment. Tonight’s Youth Side Event was our much-needed elixir. In packed house, youth delegates from Japan, Australia, Canada, the US and Indonesia showcased the incredible things youth are achieving against institutional constraints, closed doors and apathy, day in, day out, all around the world. Personally, the event inspired hope that indeed we are not lost in this fight. As young people, carrying neither historical baggage, nor vested interests in anything other than our future, we present a unified front that is nothing less than a force to be reckoned with. The pace of change at COP13 is extraordinary – an hour passes by and you could be looking at a very different future. Tonight’s youth event was an hour well spent and it is hours like this are that will get us through the frustration to come, as we fight for our fate.

 

The human face of climate change

by Ellen Sandell

Last night the International Youth Caucus here in Bali held a Side Event that showcased the activities that young people are taking all around the world to halt climate change. It was an inspiring event, with examples of education, outreach, direct action, lobbying and more from countries such as Indonesia, Japan, the UK, Canada, the US and, of course, Australia.
But the most heartfelt (and heartbreaking) moment came after the youth finished presenting their stories of success, when a young woman from Kiribati stood up and told her story. Kiribati (pronounced Kir-ah-bass) is a Pacific island, the majority of which is only two metres above sea level. As this woman explained, her people are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change. As we listened with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes, I realised that this was one of the first times I had put a human voice to the climate justice issues the world will face if we don’t do much, much more to halt climate change.
Many of us here are becoming frustrated with the slow progress of the UNFCCC negotiations, as countries spend hours debating whether certain agenda items should be adopted or not. Meanwhile, many low-lying islands are drowning, and the culture and way of life of their people are disappearing.
The global community must wake up and realize that climate change is not only an economic, environmental or trade issue – but it is an issue of fundamental human rights. The countries which have contributed the least to climate change are the ones being the most affected, and they have the least amount of resources to cope with the impacts. Most popular debate surrounds targets of 2 degrees of warming from pre-industrial levels, whereas the effects on nations such as Kiribati are already devastating. 2 degrees of warming, therefore, will be disastrous for many people around the world. Seeing as the international community seems unwilling or unable to cope with the number of refugees currently seeking asylum around the world – what will happen when tens of thousands more are displaced from Pacific Islands due to even greater sea level rise, storms and other effects of climate change?
It is imperative that we re-conceptualise the debate around emission reduction targets and the consequences of climate change. 2 degrees is far too much, and we must be reminded of this every time we look at the faces of our Pacific neighbours who are already likely to lose their homes.

Fossil Fuels are NOT here to stay

The executive secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, is a particularly influential figure. But in his opening speech at the Bali conference, while advocating for strong action on climate change, there was one particularly worrying phrase that sent a ripple through the international crowd. “Fossil fuels are here to stay.” Uh-oh. This is definitely not a good sign.
Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PysGA3TTiDc for some remarks he made at a press conference a few hours later.
My basic objection to his statements is thus: Fossil fuels have a lot of ‘C’ in them. When you burn them in ‘O2’, you end up with CO2. CO2 causes climate change. It’s a simple physical fact, and you can’t negotiate with the laws of physics.
If you dig up the carbon and burn it, the CO2 heats our atmosphere, acidifies our oceans, or corrodes our land.
Perhaps Mr de Boer has had one too many conversations with the big oil producers, like OPEC and Russia. I call on Mr de Boer to recognise the clear vested interests of these countries, and instead to listen to the youth of the world, who come with no historical baggage and who have no
vested interests other than a safe and healthy future. Given that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, which threatens that safe future, global youth are clearly saying that fossil fuels are NOT here to stay. With all due respect, Yvo de Boer is wrong on that front.
‘Carbon Capture and Storage’ (CCS), or ‘Geosequestration’, will not solve the problem. Just like there is not enough room in our atmosphere to store the carbon dioxide that we create, there is not enough room under the earth’s crust. (For a full discussion see http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/carbon_sequestration.php)
We aren’t asking that the fossil industry ends overnight, but it must be phased out, and the UNFCCC secretariat must acknowledge that. My personal conviction is that ‘cleaner’ fossil fuel technologies like efficiency and Geosequestration, while an important step in the transition away from
fossil fuels, must not be used as an excuse to prolong fossil fuel use.
What is more, the cost of ‘cleaning up’ the fossil industries must be borne by private investment from the fossil industries themselves – they have significant profits under their belt, and can certainly afford to clean up their act.
The world’s public investment should not subsidise these industries further, but instead be directed into long-term renewable solutions – wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, and end-use energy efficiency.
To stop climate change, fossil fuels must be phased out and it’s time that our world leaders acknowledged that openly. We can’t solve climate change otherwise.

by Anna Keenan, Australia

What targets?

It’s now day 3 of the UNFCCC climate change conference, and we’re all still on our feet despite a lack of sleep and an overload of information. One thing that has been particularly interesting of late is the discussion around which targets we need to aim for to really address climate change. There are phrases floating around such as “as far below 2 degrees as possible” and “in order to avoid dangerous climate change” but is this enough? What do we need to actually save the planet?
We must draw a line in the sand, a threshold of global temperature increase that we should not cross. We must set a target in global emission reductions that gives us the best chance of averting climate disaster. While there is no global consensus on what this should be, it would be prudent to err on the side of caution and choose a stringent target that minimizes the risk of the worst climate impacts.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts this threshold at two degrees global warming. It is anticipated that this temperature increase would have catastrophic impacts on natural systems that support human life. To have a reasonable chance of preventing warming of 2 degrees requires global emissions to peak in 2015 and then be reduced globally by 50-80% by 2050. Given Australia’s emissions are four times the global average, Australia will have to reduce its emissions more significantly, by a minimum of 30% 2020 and 80% 2050. However, recent evidence suggests that this is too conservative. James Hanson, a NASA Scientist, has demonstrated that warming above 1.5 -1.7 degrees is likely to cause the melting of both the West Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. If these enormous blocks of ice melt, global sea level would rise by 25metres, flooding major cities and river deltas – the world would be a very different place. To prevent this warming will require reductions of at least 100% by 2030.
If we are to prevent catastrophic changes to the earth’s climate systems we need targets based on what the science says is necessary for a safe future.

by Amanda McKenzie

Canada In Bali: Futile Climate Policy Debunked

Cross-posted from It’s Getting Hot in Here – dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement.

If you’re a Canadian waiting for your government to show leadership on climate change, don’t hold your breath. 

canflag.jpg

In the opening days of the UN negotiations here in Bali, Canada submitted a written statement outlining a worrisome wish-list for the international climate treaty that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

The Canadian contribution to the negotiations may appear to be constructive on the surface, but a basic analysis reveals implications that are as controversial as they are troubling. Canada calls for a post-Kyoto treaty that will:

• “Balance environmental protection and economic prosperity, be economically realistic, and not unduly burden the growth of any single country”

Aha. We’ve heard this one before: The Economy versus Environment debate. But what exactly does it mean to be economically realistic? And why does Canada insist on presenting environmental sustainability and economic prosperity as mutual exclusivities? Is it really a zero sum game, where any efforts to address climate change must come at the cost of our economy?  Even prominent economists argue that the worst possible prescription for our economy would be inaction on climate change.

• “Have a long-term focus – a new international framework must set the scale and timing of global emission reduction through to 2050.  Canada believes we should aim to cut emissions by half over this period”

Cutting emissions is key, explicit timelines are essential, but there are several ingredients conspicuously absent from this recipe.  First of all, who is the we? Canada? Industrialized countries? The international community? Oh, and what baseline levels are we using when “we” cut emissions by 50%? Let me guess, Canada is referring to 50% below 2006 emissions levels by 2050, even though the IPCC has clearly called for 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  Yeah… Nice try.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.