Canada is a pariah state and a problem at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the head of one of the summit’s largest delegations.
“Canada, being an oil-producing country, does not want to see a cap on greenhouse gases,” David Cadman, a Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor and the president of ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability, told the Straight. “They know it is going to be very difficult for them to comply and continue to produce so much oil and gas and continue to tap the tar sands.”
On December 7, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in South Korea that Canada will use its cochairmanship of the 2010 G20 meeting to urge members to put economic-recovery initiatives ahead of efforts to combat environmental degradation.
Reached on his cellphone in the delegates’ cafeteria, Cadman expressed dissatisfaction with his country’s involvement in the COP15 negotiations thus far. He confessed that, while his responsibilities with ICLEI have had him meeting with heads of state from all over the world, he has not spent any time with Canadian delegates.
“When my country says, ”˜We’re going to follow the Americans,’ then I say, ”˜Okay, fine. I’ll spend time with the Americans,’ ” Cadman explained. “There is no point in spending time with a country that has ceded its sovereignty to its southern neighbour to the extent where it is not really even engaging.”
Leading up to the conference, Canada’s minister of the environment, Jim Prentice, repeatedly claimed that Canada’s plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions was similar to President Barack Obama’s pledge to cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
Cadman noted that opposition in Congress to mandatory emissions cuts has left Obama with virtually no way to make his pledged cuts happen. He argued that Canada appears to have even less of a strategy to reduce emissions.
The councillor said that he was not optimistic that any sort of legally binding agreement will emerge from COP15, which ends on December 18. According to him, a realistic outcome is a framework for future negotiations that deals with major issues including emissions targets, funding for developing nations, and technology transfer agreements.
“But I could be proved wrong,” Cadman said. “People said the same thing about [the 1997 conference in] Kyoto.”
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