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Canada’s Mandate At Durban Climate Talks Clear: Negotiate On Behalf Of Tar Sands, Not Canadians’ Future


A perspective on Day 5 of the Durban climate negotiations,  from Ani, a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation representing Manitoba at the Durban climate conference. Ani works as a Public Education and Outreach Coordinator for Climate Change Connection, a project of the Manitoba Eco-Network. To read more, visit Ani’s blog at

Day 5 of COP17 – In two days most Ministers from around the world will be arriving in Durban to negotiate the outcome of Durban. So far – “There is not much energy in the room.” said Canada’s chief negotiator Guy Saint-Jacques in his daily briefing meetings.  Every morning we receive fairly inconsequential updates on the policy developments behind closed doors and every morning we ask questions, receive a “politically safe” answer and every morning we leave unsatisfied. He suggest it’s time to retire the Bali Action Plan and establish a completely new agreement in which all parties are subject to the same commitments in order to “level the playing field with same obligations.” When challenged to define “same obligations” he came up with a plan with equal targets and gradually implementation:

1. We establish a mandate in Durban.

2. We start negotiating next year.

3. We conclude negotiations of the new document by 2015.

4. Implementation (gradual for some countries) begins sometime post 2015.

Excuse me? Just a reminder: The Kyoto Protocol was concluded in 1997 and ratified in 2002 by Canada. What does implementation “sometime post 2015” mean? The world cannot afford a dead decade on climate change.

To add injury to insult, this morning I found out the Canadian House of Commons applauded the fossil of the day awards and Peter Kent thinks we (the people who give out the fossil) are “uninformed and ideologically driven” – forget the UNEP, UNFCCC, forget NGOs.

Brazil and China agreed to openly criticize Canada. China’s state-owned media agency, Xinhua, also published a commentary accusing Canada of setting a “bad example” at the talks, and prompting an “angry” response that united each delegation in their criticism of the Canadian government’s position. Brazil joined China, “It’s very clear that countries that leave the Kyoto Protocol […] leave the Kyoto Protocol to do less than they would do in the Kyoto Protocol and we think this is very bad news,” said Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago.

Enough! Canada’s climate change strategy must be out there – somewhere – here at COP17! As I searched through wastepaper baskets, underneath computer keyboards and country booths for Canada’s climate change strategy I realized I was looking for the wrong thing. Canada does not have a plan to effectively tackle climate change or reduce emissions from tar sands. The likelihood that Canada has a plan to fight climate change is on par with the likelihood that Sasquatchs exist.

There isn’t even a fuzzy video or a half remembered vision to create the allusion of the existence of a Canadian climate change strategy. What exists is a clear mandate to negotiate on behalf of the tar sands, even if it means derailing international climate talks.


Youth Delegate

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