Elizabeth May heading to UN climate negotiations in Durban

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, will depart for Durban, South Africa, hoping to make a difference in Canada’s position on the Kyoto protocol, or at least limit the damage.  “Other countries are now taking out full page ads decrying our position on Kyoto.  This is a terrible embarrassment for Canada on the world stage and if we don’t turn things around, we will be judged harshly in the future,” said May.

The Speaker of the House denied May’s request that Parliament have an Emergency Debate on Canada’s negotiating position at the Durban conference.  It has been leaked that despite participating in the negotiations, the Harper government plans to withdraw from Kyoto a few days before Christmas.

“There has been no opportunity for Parliament to discuss Canada’s negotiating position. Opposition Members will not be included in the Canadian delegation to COP17.  I am going as a member of the Global Greens delegation and will pay my own way.  I am saddened that I am not an official representative of my country, but I am determined to do my best,” said May.

Scientists have cautioned that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must be taken to avoid exceeding an average increase of 2 degrees C if the planet is to escape the worst impacts of the changing climate.  The Kyoto Protocol was meant to be the first step in that process, agreed upon by 191 countries.  Most of the industrialized world have met or exceeded their Kyoto targets. The EU has exceeded its target. Japan has reduced emissions below 1990 levels but falls short of its target.  Canada is the only country within the Kyoto Protocol to have repudiated our legally binding obligations.  Moreover, Kyoto is not merely a set of targets to 2012. It is a very detailed set of agreements that cover monitoring, reporting, credits, adaptation, and other mechanisms that took years to negotiate.

“Kyoto is our best chance to reduce global emissions.   There is no time for developing a new instrument with the detail and rigour of the Kyoto framework. We could find ourselves running to catch up, re-joining an agreement that disadvantages our economy because we were not in the room when the agreement was negotiated,” said May.

Green Party President John Streicker will accompany May to Durban.  “It is so crucial to make the smart long term choices now to shift our economy to a sustainable energy base. Living in the North, I see firsthand that climate change is already having an impact but I know that it is not too late and I believe that countries will pull together on a global level to make the necessary emissions reductions. It is a question of whether Canada will be part of the problem or part of the solution,” commented Streicker.

May and Streicker  will be attending the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol as observers from Sunday December 4th until it concludes on Friday December 9th.