Elizabeth May joins Afghanistan delegation at UN climate conference

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May today announced that she has joined the Afghanistan delegation at the COP 19 UN climate conference, and will thus have access to high-level negotiations open only to government representatives.

Afghan BadgeCOP 19 marks the fifth UN climate conference since 2008 that the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands has attended independently of the Canadian government delegation. This year’s Conservative-only Canadian delegation will be led by Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and MP for Nunavut, who arrives in Poland today. May, who will be serving as a Policy Advisor to the Afghanistan representatives, is the only Canadian opposition MP in attendance.

This 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is taking place in Warsaw from November 11 to 22. The conference brings together national representatives from 194 convention member states to negotiate a global set of commitments to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

An environmental lawyer and climate policy expert, May’s presence on the Afghanistan delegation is expected to significantly increase the negotiating capacity of this war-ravaged developing nation. “I am honoured to have been asked to join the Afghanistan delegation and I look forward to working with them over the coming days,” said May. “This is a chance to send a message to the international community that we simply cannot afford to wait, that we need immediate action on climate change.

Expectations of any major policy breakthroughs at this COP were low, but negotiations have already taken a dramatic turn. Yeb Sano, the leader of the Philippines delegation has vowed to go on a hunger strike in solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, a disaster widely attributed to climate change. Elizabeth May, along with a number of other delegates, will be fasting along with Sano.