Environment Minister Jim Prentice issues the challenge
Barcelona, Spain (November 6, 2009) - On the concluding day of the UN climate talks in Barcelona this week, Canada was named not only 'Fossil of the Day' but also 'Fossil of the Week', by the Climate Action Network International – a global coalition of over 450 leading non-government organizations who monitor progress at the UN talks.
The satirical award – said to be 'as prestigious as it is dishonourable' – is given daily at the UN talks to those nations judged to be 'the best’ at blocking or stalling progress in the global climate negotiations.
In an interview yesterday, Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice declared: "Well, if the price of having strong, capable, tough negotiators at the table is being singled out and given ‘Fossil of the Year' awards, then so be it. Bring it on,"
“'Bring on' what exactly?” asks Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation. “More droughts in Western Africa and in the Canadian Prairies, more forest fires in southern Europe and in British Columbia, or more heat waves in India and in Southern Ontario? That's what we'll get if Canada keeps stubbornly blocking the UN climate talks.”
Canada is the single worst country in the industrialized world at these negotiations. One would think that they would show some sign of remorse for abandoning their Kyoto Protocol commitments, but no, not Canada. Not only do they refuse to tackle the massive pollution and GHG emissions arising from the Tar Sands – which is responsible for almost 50 % of the GHG increase in Canada since 1990 – but the government also has plans to increase tar-sands production 5 folds in the coming decades,” says Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre.
“I would like to say I am surprised, but the reality is, the Canadian Government has not even tried to hide their complete disregard for the importance of these negotiations,” says Graham Saul of Climate Action Network Canada.
“Canadians are right to be angry. Canada is one of the world’s top ten polluters, yet Environment Minister Jim Prentice seems to think we can weasel out of our responsibility for tackling global warming," said Mark Fried, policy coordinator at Oxfam Canada. “The issue isn’t environment vs. economy, it’s common sense vs. greed. Spiralling climate-related disasters are already causing food shortages and forced migration that will ultimately affect us all.”
Members of Climate Action Network International believe that there is still hope for a strong, binding and fair agreement in Copenhagen. As they say ‘it is always the darkest before the dawn’, and Copenhagen needs to be a moment of international cooperation and success.
“We must appeal to our government in every way possible to take this issue seriously,” says Virginie Lambert Ferry of Greenpeace Canada. “Canadians are looking very forward to the day when we can celebrate our government’s leadership and action instead of their disgrace, maybe that day will come in Copenhagen, maybe Canada will finally get it.”
But for now, another Fossil Award for the books, especially dedicated to Minister Prentice’s enthusiasm.
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