Skip to content

Canada’s Pollution Peddlers Arrive At COP17 in Durban


It’s a busy time for a climate activist; the updates from COP17 are coming in fast and furious, particularly from Canadians as the Canadian Minister of the Environment Peter Kent and his delegation arrived yesterday. Here are some of the articles that were in my inbox this morning:

Mardi Tindal, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada and a passionate advocate for  action on climate change, wrote this from Durban yesterday:

Moderator Mardi Tindal's picture

Epicentre of an Earthquake

Before leaving home for the COP17 climate talks, my climate advisor, environmental journalist Alanna Mitchell declared, “It will be like going into the epicentre of an earthquake before it happens, knowing that you might be able to do something to prevent it.”

These words haunt me. Every day there is growing evidence – in science and story – that Alanna is right about the looming ‘earthquake’ known as the inevitable effects of global warming. Climate change has already taken countless lives and is now threatening millions more in Africa and Asia, not to mention those of sinking island states and others.

Thousands of Africans with whom I marched on Saturday have already seen lives lost. It seems that the world, including Christians, can be as generous as possible when we give aid in response to the devastation from an earthquake, but unless we help prevent the catastrophe that’s brewing on this continent, there is no way we’ll be able to meet the needs or prevent unimaginable suffering and death. Even our own capacity will increasingly be affected by the impact of climate change on our own economy. Click here to read the full post.

Ani, the Manitoba Youth Delegate who has been sharing her insights from Durban with us, has 3 new entries in the last 2 days (and is the source of the poster at the top):

Canada Denies “Arm-twisting” In UN Climate Talks:   As the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations are entering their second week in Durban, South Africa – Canada keeps delivering fresh new COP gossip. While Canada’s Environment Minister claims he will be defending tar sands industry at these negotiations, the South African High Commissioner is making allegations of Canada ‘arm-twisting’ vulnerable nations to leave the Kyoto Protocol.Many climate-vulnerable countries have complained that Canada has been using foreign aid packages as bartering chips for countries to back out of the 1997 international climate agreement.

In our daily morning briefings with the Canadian Delegation I needed to call them out on this and asked the lead negotiator Guy Saint Jacques, “Why Peter Kent won’t admit that Canada is going to leave the Kyoto Protocol, but they are secretly asking other countries to do so?” Read the full post on Ani’s blog.

Canada’s Fair Share? Fossil Fuel Industry Vs. Climate Finance: Canada announced $1.2 billion dollars over three years for fast start financing to support urgent climate action in poorer countries. Fast start financing is an effort to ensure immediate resources for countries adapting to climate change. While Peter Kent states that “Canada came to Durban to make a real contribution toward a global solution to this global issue; this signals that,” – I am thinking that despite the fact that fast start financing is absolutely necessary we have to put the current government’s path into context. The Canadian government gives $1.4 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industries annually and decided to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in December. Furthermore, a good chunk of the money will be given out as loans instead of grants. Loaning money with interest to least developed countries is a long way from the moral high ground. Read the full post on Ani’s blog.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and the Canadian Youth Delegation were on hand to welcome Mr. Kent and his delegation yesterday, and sent this press release from Durban:

Members of the Canadian Youth Delegation and the Indigenous Environmental Network held a welcome party to formally receive Environment Minister Peter Kent and his tar sands pushers to the UN climate negotiations. As conference delegates entered the negotiations this morning, the welcoming committee handed out samples of tar sands on behalf of Kent, along with tourism brochures for Canada’s scenic tar sands.

Canada’s refusal to commit to a binding climate agreement has made it a pariah state at the negotiations. Members of the Canadian Youth Delegation and the Indigenous Environmental Network hope their humble gifts will make the tar sands pushers feel right at home.

“Canada’s cozy relationship with oil industry has inhibited them from making real progress at these negotiations,” said Karen Rooney. “It’s clear that they have chosen to put the needs of polluters ahead of people.”

Over the past few months, Canada has been lobbying foreign governments to weaken both their climate policies and fuel quality standards to protect the trade of tar sands oil.

Meanwhile, the health and livelihoods of many Indigenous communities downstream from the tar sands continue to be threatened due to toxic tailings and the destruction of the boreal forest.

“Indigenous communities have been turned into sacrifice zones in Canada to feed our fossil fuel addiction. We are here to stand up for those communities against Canada’s pollution peddling and support just climate solutions,” stated Ben Powless, of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Photo: Ben Powless, IEN

Here in Canada, December 6 is a day of sadness and remembrance. Twenty-two years ago today, a gunman entered a university in Montreal and killed 14 women – simply because they were women. Their names were: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznick-Widajewicz.

Today, many of us are remembering ALL women and girls today who have been killed simply because they were female. During this same 20 years, over 500 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered across Canada. To learn more about this, go to the Sisters in Spirit archives at the Native Women’s Association of Canada (Sisters in Spirit is no longer active because the Harper government cut their funding last year).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. jay permalink
    2011/12/06 7:42 pm

    It must be horrible for the relatives of the victims of Polytechnique to see all the hard work behind the gun register is going down the toilet. When you add that to the anti-environment agenda of the Harper government, there’s really a dark cloud of bad karma over the heads of the voters making this government a reality.

    Horrible people ain’t a problem when you don’t elect them…

  2. JR1andonly permalink
    2011/12/07 9:37 am

    I did not vote for Harper but I think so many people are incredibly misinformed– we all realize that the climate is changing regardless of what man has done/ is doing? All you people who rant and whine seem to me to just be part of a big leftist/ socialist movement– just what we need, more regulations, more government, and more wealth distribution so that those that are productive can produce for the ever-increasing number of Canadians who realize that the ever-increasing social net actually leaves them better off than many who work. I work hard, make decent money, and yet I can’t afford proper dental care for my kids yet some woman who lies on her back and gets pregnant over and over gets big government cheques and free dental for her kids that I can’t afford for mine because of the massive tax bills I pay so that her kids can have a good life– how many think that is right or fair?

    • 2011/12/07 11:02 am

      Your arguments are memes that are used regularly by the oil industry and its trolls, JR1, and so I’m happy to address them here.
      #1 The Science: All the Academies of Science on the planet,Environment Canada, the NOAA, NASA, the International Energy Agency, the OECD, etc are united. The climate is changing because of human activities. If you are wondering about how transferring carbon from the ground to the air might influence our climate, google “Climate Science 101 & Bill Nye the Science Guy”. He does a great job of explaining how CO2 is a heat-trapping molecule, and what it is doing to the global climate systems.
      #2 “All you people” now includes the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Catholic Church, the U.S. military, the business community (According to Torsten Jeworrek, CEO of reinsurance operations at Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, “switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the prime task this century faces and offers substantial financial opportunities”), the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE)(they’re calling for “a broad-based carbon pricing scheme that is transparent and predictable”), etc. So the “leftie/socialist enviros” meme is quickly running out of steam.
      #3 The Economy: the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) is calling for “a broad-based carbon pricing scheme that is transparent and predictable.” Such a mechanism will help change behaviours, and spur innovation and the development of cleaner energy sources, products and services, according to the CCCE.
      Change tends to scare people. We don’t like to see the world in which we grew up – its views and expectations – shift abruptly. It’s not surprising that there’s a small but highly vocal group out in the public sphere who question the science despite the robust research, and declare global warming to be a lie dreamt up by devious liberals to take over the world. The truth is, change is coming, whether we like it or not. The question is, is Canada going to be pro-active and lead the parade to a renewable energy economy, or spend the next decades playing catch-up?

    • jay permalink
      2011/12/07 9:07 pm

      The “I hate the climate change narrative because me and my kids have ugly teeth” argument, really?

      • 2011/12/08 6:46 am

        In my experience, most parents who are struggling to make ends meet also want a liveable planet for their children. It’s the denier trolls who like to repeat this silliness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: