OTTAWA: On the occasion of His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s passing, Elizabeth May, Green Party of CanadaLeader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, delivered the following tribute to the remarkable life and legacy of democratic South Africa’s first President:
“Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to social justice, democracy and peace. His moral clarity and moral courage will forever be an inspiration. Let no one imagine that in our struggles the obstacles are too large or the odds too long. Nelson Mandela's triumph in moving from 27 years of imprisonment to becoming the president of a free South Africa stands for the reality that the impossible can be made possible."
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
OTTAWA: The Green Party of Canada today wishes to recognize all those living with disabilities, both in Canada and around the world, and in honour of this year’s theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, call on our government and Canadian society as a whole to do more to “Break Barriers and Open Doors for an inclusive society and development for all.”
Every day, people with disabilities confront myriad physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully in mainstream society. As a result, they and their families live with disproportionate levels of poverty and social exclusion.
The Green Party of Canada supports a more inclusive Canadian society, where everyone’s unique strengths and abilities are honoured. Canadians with disabilities are too often exiled to inadequate, stigmatizing and ineffective systems of income support that were never designed to address their real income needs.
The Canadian Association for Community Living states that of the 500,000 working-age people with intellectual disabilities in Canada, most live in poverty and only 25% are employed. Canadians with disabilities are ready, willing and able to contribute to contribute to the Canadian labour market.
The Canadian government must commit to investing in better support systems, and must do more to break down the barriers preventing Canadians living with disabilities from fully engaging with and contributing to community life.
The Green Party supports greater access to adapted social housing, improved infrastructure for accessibility tools, and more stringent enforcement of the Employment Equity Act to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to long-term employment.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Why a green economic future is more robust, resilient than putting all our eggs in fossil fuel basket
The problem is not that governments are not doing enough to fight global warming. It’s that governments, particularly the Harper administration, are actually in the way.
The starting point in discussing the enormous opportunity of the green economy is to appreciate that the future of a fossil fuel-dependent economy will be short and painful. As the International Energy Agency has warned, of all known reserves of fossil fuels on the planet, two-thirds must remain in the ground until at least 2050. Expressed another way, until mid-century, human societies must be restricted to only one third of known reserves. The valuation of energy companies is based on their control of reserves. The fact that these corporations may, thus, be over-valued is now described as the problem of the “carbon bubble.”
A new report, authored by researchers at the Carbon Tracker Initiative, Grantham Foundation and the London School of Economics and Politics, “Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets” warns of the economic peril of overvaluation of carbon assets.
As Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and former advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Smart investors can already see that most fossil fuel reserves are essentially unburnable because of the need to reduce emissions in line with the global agreement by governments to avoid global warming of more than two degrees Celsius. They can see that investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision. But I hope this report will mean that regulators also take note, because much of the embedded risk from these potentially toxic carbon assets is not openly recognized through current reporting requirements.”
Most global observers, whether conservative elements within the International Financial Institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank, or scientific assessments, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the International Energy Agency, are all pressing forward for some form of climate pricing. As the pressure to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies also ramps up, and Stephen Harper’s promise to do so, a pledge he made at the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the fossil fuel industry will find itself less able to withstand the growing competitive force coming from increasingly attractive renewable energy sources.
The one significant glitch in moving from the theoretical possibility that our modern and growing economy, globally, can rely on clean energy to the reality of such reliance is that renewables (wind, solar in particular, clearly not the case for tidal or geothermal) are not reliable at all times. Converting peak load from renewable to base load to meet energy needs requires one technological gap-filler—storage of renewables. The Nordic countries have figured it out. Denmark’s wind-generated electricity is shared across the grid to Norway, where when the wind is blowing, its energy pumps water into reservoirs in Norway. When the wind isn’t blowing, Norway opens the sluices to drive hydropower: peak to base in one elegant solution.
There are many other examples of technology that move peak load to base load. Using green energy to produce fuel—whether hydrogen or methanol— provides alternatives that can be distributed through the same infrastructure in place for natural gas.
There is basically no limit to the potential of wind, solar, geothermal, cogeneration, tidal, as well as new applications for (non-food crop) bio-fuels.
The green economy also includes smarter use of fossil fuels over the decades it will take to move fossil fuel use to zero. Reducing waste of all kinds—whether of water, energy, toxic chemicals, solid waste, will contribute directly to higher profits. Waste and pollution are essentially symptoms of market failure. Correcting for them is a sensible step for anyone who understands the basics of a healthy stable economy.
If we were serious about innovation in Canada, if we wanted to ensure our economy stayed vibrant over the next two decades, the last thing we would do is to focus on the oilsands and fracking natural gas. We would be diversifying; encouraging innovators, ensuring policies aided the commercialization of smart new technology. We would be building supply chains and a flourishing intersection of supply chains for local consumption and export. We would, in other words, be developing policies most favourable to small and medium-sized enterprises. We would, as the Pembina Institute research demonstrates as possible, build the Canadian cleantech sector from its current $9-billion market share to $60-billion by 2020.
The problem is not that governments are not doing enough to fight global warming. It’s that governments, particularly the Harper administration, are actually in the way.
If we were serious about acting to reduce greenhouse gases, we would have a national strategy developed through consultation and negotiations with all other jurisdictions. We would set ambitious targets. And we would ensure a healthier economic future as we secure a healthy environment.
Originally published in the Hill Times.Why a green economic future is more robust, resilient than putting all our eggs in fossil fuel basket
OTTAWA: Today marks the 25th annual World AIDS Day, and The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Canadian government to do more to address this urgent health crisis both in our own country and around the world.
Since 1988, there have been remarkable improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, but much remains to be done. In 2012, an estimated 2.3 million people globally were newly infected with HIV, among whom 260,000 were children.
In Canada, rates of new HIV/AIDS infection have slowed over the past decade, but the disease remains a very real threat and one that disproportionately affects our country’s most vulnerable communities. In 2011, the HIV infection rate for Aboriginal Canadians was approximately 5 times higher than the rate for the total Canadian population, but many cases still go unreported and accurate data has historically been difficult to obtain.
The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Harper administration to increase the resource investment in harm reduction, prevention and education directed to high-risk populations, particularly as the stigma associated with HIV remains a barrier to effective treatment.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Statement from the Green Party of Canada for #WorldAidsDay 2013
It has been more than a year since the Harper government cabinet was in a legal position to ratify the Canada-China investment treaty. Thank goodness that step has not yet been taken.
It is the largest threat currently hanging over Canadians’ ability to chart our own course, whether in environmental protection, labour laws or any aspect of municipal, provincial or federal rule-making.
The Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, commonly known as FIPA, is the most significant investor-state agreement signed by Canada since NAFTA.
This deal conveys to state-owned enterprises of the People’s Republic of China powers and rights superior to those of Canadian companies to complain and seek arbitration damages against Canadian governments.
Once in force, it lasts a minimum of 31 years. Firstly, there is a 15-year first phase after which, if a future government wants to exit the treaty, a one-year notice is required. Following that step, even once the treaty is cancelled, any existing Chinese operations in Canada are guaranteed another 15 years of the treaty’s benefits.
This treaty would thus bind any future Canadian government for an unprecedented 31-year period if ratified.
FIPA effectively creates a completely unnecessary set of rights to the SOEs of China, rights that are not required by China in order to do business here. Australia has no such FIPA with China, and has a 10-fold larger trade relationship with China than does Canada.
The treaty also empowers Chinese SOEs to claim damages from Canadian taxpayers for any loss in profits resulting from any legislation in Canada, passed at any level of government, after FIPA has become law. The damage claims start with six months of diplomatic negotiation. If that fails, damage claims move to arbitration behind closed doors.
The Canada-China Investment Treaty would allow Chinese investors to sue our government outside of Canadian courts. Special arbitrators would take the decisions. These arbitrators, unlike judges, do not have secure tenures or set salaries. Their decision cannot be subject to judicial review. The arbitrations are to be secret. Even the fact they are happening is to be secret.
In Canada, treaty-making differs from legislation in that it is a royal prerogative. Thus a treaty can become law after having been tabled in Parliament for no more than 21 days, after which time it can be ratified through a cabinet order in council.
With all parliamentary avenues to avert this disastrous treaty having long been exhausted, the Hupacasath First Nation of Port Alberni, BC courageously attempted to block the Canada-China agreement through the courts this past spring.
In June, lawyers for the Hupacasath spent three days before Federal Court in Vancouver arguing for a delay in the treaty’s ratification at least until a proper consultative process had been allowed to take place with First Nations who were to be affected by the agreement.
On Aug. 26, Federal Court Chief Justice Paul S. Crampton announced that the Hupacasth’s claim had been dismissed on the grounds that any adverse impacts to the First Nation’s traditional territory as a result of the treaty were “non-appreciable and speculative in nature.”
The Hucapasath have since taken their legal challenge to the next level: the Federal Court of Appeal, and, eventually, the Supreme Court of Canada. Right now, this Vancouver Island First Nation of fewer than 300 is our country’s last line of defence against this egregious treaty, and with it the Chinese economic juggernaut.
Would it be too speculative to imagine a future where takeovers like the $15.1 billion acquisition of oil and gas giant Nexen by the Chinese government owned CNOOC are the norm, rather than the exception? Or where Canadian taxpayers are forced to reimburse Chinese corporations for profits they lost through Canadian legislation aimed at protecting our land, air and water?
Under NAFTA, our government has already been forced to pay $160 million in compensation. This FIPA could open the door to challenges to Canadian legislation on a scale we can’t yet even imagine, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.
The Harper Conservatives had once boycotted China, with the PM refusing to attend the Beijing Olympics. Now, he is trading Canada away for a panda visit. By signing the Canada-China Investment Treaty the Harper government is allowing Canadian democracy to be eroded in the interests of Chinese profits.Originally published in Embassy News. The panda in the room - Article by @ElizabethMay in @EmbassyNews on #FIPA
OTTAWA: With Hanukkah beginning at sundown this evening, the Green Party sends best wishes for the holiday season to Canada’s Jewish community.
Observed for eight days and nights each year between November and December, Hanukkah is a celebration honouring the Judean Revolution against the Seleucid Empire in Jerusalem, in the 2nd century BC.
Hanukkah is a festival of lights, traditionally observed with the lighting of candles on the nine-branched menorah each night. The candles serve to commemorate the Miracle of Hanukkah:
When, after a great battle, they had recaptured the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Seleucids, the Judean Maccabees discovered that there was only enough oil left to keep the Temple lamp lit for a single day, but this remaining oil is said to have lasted for eight days.
The Green Party of Canada would like to wish all those celebrating Hanukkah this year a joyous holiday season.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Happy #Hanukkah from the Green Party!
OTTAWA: Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, extended heartfelt congratulations today to the Green by-election candidates, thanking them for their hard work and dedication.
“There’s no question that these were tough campaigns,” said May. “Our candidates were able to bring real issues, like climate change and democratic reform, to the forefront of the debate, and we offered voters the opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction with what’s going on in Ottawa right now.”
Green candidates ran campaigns in each by-election riding, with John Deverell in Toronto-Centre, Janine Gibson in Provencher, David Neufeld in Brandon-Souris, and Danny Polifroni in Bourassa.
May conveyed particular thanks to Georges Laraque, the original candidate in Bourassa, who had opted to step down in October. Laraque remained a steadfast supporter of the Greens in Bourassa, canvassing every day alongside Polifroni.
“We should be proud that we were present, and that we enabled voters living in these ridings who wanted to express their solidarity with a Green perspective and a Green Canada to voice their desires at the ballot box,” said Paul Estrin, President of the Green Party of Canada. “They did a great job.”
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Green Party condemns Government of Afghanistan’s plan to reintroduce stoning as punishment for adultery
OTTAWA: Following the announcement that the Government of Afghanistan planned to reinstate the Taliban-era practice of punishing adultery with public stoning, the Green Party of Canada today voiced its unequivocal condemnation of the policy, and urged the international community to push for human rights reform in Afghanistan.
At a multi-party press conference yesterday morning in support of the YWCA Rose Campaign to End Violence Against Women, Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May called for greater government action to address this critical human rights issue, both in Canada and globally.
May later directly criticized the proposed changes to Afghanistan’s penal code, which according to a draft released today would be amended to state that “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death].”
"This abhorrent policy is indicative of the profound challenges facing Afghanistan. Tragically, despite recent advances in education, Afghan women remain marginalized within their society,” said May. “Our government must publically denounce these grave human rights abuses.”
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Green Party condemns Government of Afghanistan’s plan to reintroduce stoning as punishment for adultery
On International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, Green Party calls on Harper Conservatives to take action for Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women
OTTAWA: Today marks the 32nd annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the Green Party is calling on the Harper Conservatives to act more decisively to help end this daily threat to the safety and well-being of women and girls, both in our own country and around the world.
“Few people realize that violence against women is the world’s leading human-rights violation and, sadly, Canada isn’t immune to this tragedy,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands. “More than half of Canadian women and girls are victims of violence at some point in their lives. How can we as a civilized society accept this?”
May conveyed her support for the YWCA’s national Rose Campaign at their Ottawa press conference this morning. The Rose Campaign was established 22 years ago to commemorate the shooting deaths of 14 young women at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6 – now Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Violence against women is an extremely serious problem affecting every community in Canada, but its prevalence is perhaps most overlooked within our country’s most vulnerable populations.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has documented nearly 600 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, and suspects there are many more that remain unknown. Native women account for a disproportionate number of missing and murdered Canadians, and NWAC has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need of a national action plan to address this issue.
The Harper administration continues to ignore the call from the UN Human Rights Council for a national inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women, despite the unanimous support for an investigation from provincial and territorial premiers.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
As I wrote my Friday blog Saturday morning from the Warsaw airport, it seems only right that my Saturday blog should be written on Sunday on VIA Rail as I complete the last leg of the (too) long trip back to Parliament from Poland.
I am sure you know that I would have much rather stayed in Warsaw til the bitter end of the negotiations, but I cannot afford to miss any more time in the House. The new rules adopted in those 20+ committees to force me to present amendments to committees 48 hours before they begin clause by clause, mean that I have to be back in Ottawa for tomorrow to present changes to the most recent Omnibus budget bill – C-4. So I had to leave before the final deal was hammered out.
It is not uncommon for COPs to go into over-time. The nail-biting finale in Kyoto was struck as the whole convention centre was being dismantled. Ditto Montreal in 2005 and many others. But (and I stand to be corrected) I think having a COP go well past Saturday morning and into Saturday night is a record.
When I landed in Toronto yesterday I emailed a friend still in the negotiations, someone who has been at every COP, and he wrote “yes, this is the COP that will not die.”
Sure, enough, the negotiations continued on well past the point anyone imagined. The result is a plan of work that will get the UNFCCC process to Lima next December (Dec 1-10, 2014will be COP20). No one can claim the Warsaw COP was anything other than disappointing. Nevertheless, here is a quick and dirty (emphasis on the “dirty”) summary of COP19 decisions:
- Forests: The most positive developments were in the area of land use and forest cover. That negotiation track is called “REDD” for “reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” REDD has been under negotiation for years, but COP19 adopted REDD+ which is being heralded as an effective means to arrest deforestation by creating clear rules for developing countries to receive financial help for protecting forests. Earlier in the negotiations, the UK, Norway, the US and Germany agreed to put $280 million in a World Bank Bio-carbon fund to assist developing countries. The final COP19 decision makes real progress in establishing a results-based system before any country can get the money. Forests are carbon sinks so deforestation increasing global warming. More forest cover is essential in avoiding a 2 degree global average temperature increase.
- Loss and Damage: The poorer countries succeeded in keeping this agenda item, originally put on the agenda last year at COP18 in Doha, on the rails as a separate item (not absorbed into adaptation). The parties agreed to create a Warsaw Mechanism to address the issue, but the time line to actually set up a system for polluting countries to compensate countries that have been victims of dangerous storms and other extreme events, due to global warming, will wait until after COP21 in Paris.
- Finance: The rich country offer of $100 billion a year by 2020 has transited rather sharply from public relations ploy to albatross around their necks. They managed to avoid taking any firmer pledge than to commit that the amounts would be there by 2020.
- Cutting GHG emissions: This is the over-arching and critical question and we moved farther from it, rather than closer. At COP18 last year, both Australia and Japan were on board for meaningful reductions. By COP19, Australia went off-side (and rogue) due to the election of the pro-coal government of Tony Abbott, while Japan went backward, reneging on its pledge due to the impacts of the earthquake and tsunami. The media is covering the change of the word “contributions” from “commitments.” The problem lay in treating all countries the same – small and larger polluters, North and South. The solution was either to acknowledge there must be commitments from the big polluters, OR to go with contributions from everybody. The big polluters (US, EU, Canada etc) were unwilling to have language that treated countries in different circumstances differently from each other, thus we end up with “contributions.”
At least, we now have an earlier required date by which all countries have to pony up and state what they are willing to do to reduce emissions. The stated “contributions” must be submitted in the first quarter of 2015. A lot of this conversation is spurred by the disaster that was Copenhagen. If we are going to have a meaningful treaty by November in Paris in 2015, we cannot wait until that COP opens to take stock of what countries are committed to do.
I’ll leave the last word to my old friend – a genuine eco-hero from Malaysia, Meena Raman of the Third World Network:
“The blocking by rich industrialized countries has been disgraceful. They blocked any reference to a specific number on pollution controls, such as the 40% called for by the IPCC. Similarly, they rejected a target on financing of $70bn by 2016…The agreement here is for countries to discuss their contributions to the international effort toward the ultimate objective of the Convention. That means that post-2020 contributions will have to add up to avoid 1.5C of warming. The negotiations next year will have to grapple with the emissions budget required and how to share it fairly based on historical responsibility and capacities, if the world is truly to avoid dangerous climate change. “
Final #COP19 Blog post from @ElizabethMay in #Warsaw - “yes, this is the COP that will not die.”
I am writing this from the Warsaw airport in the wee hours of almost Saturday morning. I left the ADP interactive process after 3 AM when the co-chairs adjourned, sending the weary negotiators away for a few hours rest, while the co-chairs and their team prepare a new text. This will be the 5th version. Negotiators, some remaining cool as a cucumber, others emotional and angry as the COP seems destined to under-deliver against the low expectations that awaited it two weeks ago, have been increasingly fractious. The usual diplomatic niceties have occasionally fallen away.
Even one of the most polished and old school diplomats, representing a developing country, made a searing comment as the talks went on -- and on. He pointed out that the "context of this COP must be acknowledged and that context is backsliding by developed countries; reneging of commitments that were legally undertaken. There has been a total abdication of leadership by developed countries. The irony of discussing a new treaty, with legally binding commitments, in the context of countries violating previous legally binding commitments raises questions to the credibility of this process."
Yes, it does. Other delegates from the global south became even more impassioned, expressing out loud their distrust of the industrialized country governments.
One of the more amazing things about the multilateral system is the discipline of diplomats. The super-human effort required, particularly for countries with small teams of negotiators to keep going – on little or no sleep, for days on end. And to continue to talk even when those who understand the science and know their country is at risk of more loss of life, of losing years of progress in development, have to continue to make nice across the table with those nations that could do something about it, but don’t
This COP had the added disadvantage that there was no food available in the stadium after about 9 at night. (No problem for me since I fasted while in Warsaw in solidarity with Yeb Sano of the Philippines.) One delegate complained that it must violate the UN Charter of Human rights to work people in this fashion.
Friday started for me with a closed meeting of the G77 and China. I have been attending all week. The incredible opportunity to attend these meetings as a member of the Afghanistan delegation was something I had not imagined when I I volunteered to help. If I had turned my mind to it at all, I would have expected to be kept out of those rooms. I thought my role was only to prepare policy advice, assist with the High Level speech, and to stay on top of sessions where no one from the Afghanistan government had the ability to attend. That I would be given the rare chance for a Canadian to witness the internal consultations of this huge and fascinating negotiating group was an extraordinary opportunity.
The cohesion of the group is astonishing as it contains the poorest of the poor (the LDC, Least Developed Countries Group), the African Bloc, AOSIS (the Alliance of low lying Island States), as well as China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brazil and India – over 130 nations in all. Their different circumstances and perspectives lead to different positions on many issues, but the functioning of the group under the gavel of the Chair, this year from Fiji, the courtesy and respect, was impressive. The closing session Friday morning ended with an emotional statement of appreciation for the support and solidarity of the group from the Philippine delegation, met with prolonged applause.
From there, the rest of the day is a blur. Most of the time I was in the ADP interactive, but when the chairs adjourned for a few hours to allow for some rest, I went to track what was going on in Finance and Loss and Damage – two different interactive groups both led by co-chairs (the UN tradition is to have each contact group or side negotiation be led by co-chairs, one from the industrialized world and one from a developing country.)
In none of the groups was the work anywhere near finished. New texts were announced, first as the chairs explained what they had hoped to capture in common ground – always admitting it was far short of what was required and of what delegations wanted, but asking , almost begging, for a spirit of good will and compromise.
After the short review of a text no one had yet seen, it was made available hard copy at the side of the room (only in English). All delegates would stampede to grab the text and start the process of detailed review of old text versus new, tallying up whether ground was lost or gained, in order to prepare positions once the sessions resumed.
The over-riding sense of the day was "we cannot leave Warsaw with nothing to show for two weeks of negotiating. We must have, at least, a work plan to go forward to 2014, its additional meetings and COP 20 in Lima."
The ADP group broke down at around 11 pm when there was an emotional outburst from Venezuela condemning the European Union for trying to control the process. That led to the co-chairs deciding on a break for people to try to sort out some compromise.
It is almost impossible to believe, but the next phase was a 2 and a half hour "huddle." Thirty or so country representatives literally had to stand in a corner of the room, pressed up against each other, (some complained that it got hot and fairly malodorous as they had to stay rather close to hear what was being said) to negotiate a compromise. One woman delegate from a developing country complained the process excluded her country because she was too short to hear what was going on in the middle. Canada’s Ambassador on Climate Dan McDougall was one of those in the huddle and while I deplore his negotiating instructions, I sympathize with the physical toll that this whole process takes on everyone. (although clearly, wealthy countries with big delegations, Canada’s was over 50 people, are in a much better position to work in shifts and get some breaks). While the huddle went on in the corner, delegates mostly milled around the room.
By about 2 in the morning the huddle had completed its efforts to come up with new language for paragraph 2(b) and 2 (c.) The chairs resumed the formal meeting (which also, by the way always took place without benefit of translators so everything was English only).
And that brings me to where I started this blog. I left at 3:30 in the morning for the airport. There was no clear indication when I left of whether any text was approved, in any area of negotiation. The likelihood is that a few hours from now COP19 will limp to an ignominious finish line. No one is likely to cheer from the sidelines.Warsaw COP19 – Daily Blog – We are into serious over-time ....
Call it like it is: Green Party supports EU initiative to label Canadian bitumen exports “dirty fuel”
OTTAWA: Despite months of aggressive lobbying from the Canadian government, the European Parliament remains poised to support a measure that would see Canadian bitumen exports labeled as more polluting than conventional oil.
This policy has many tar sands advocates, including Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, worried about potential spillover effects for the Keystone XL approval process.
On Tuesday at the Canada Europa Energy Summit in London, Minister Oliver criticized the European labeling system, known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), as being “opaque”, and warned that restrictions on Canadian bitumen exports would mean “lost economic opportunity.”
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, in Warsaw, Poland, for the COP 19 UN Climate Conference, called the EU policy a step in the right direction. “There can be no denying that Canadian oil sands bitumen is exceptionally polluting, even relative to other fossil fuels,” said May. “Instead of attacking the positive and scientifically sound climate measures being proposed in Europe, Canada would do well to emulate them and introduce other positive steps to curb greenhouse gasses.”
Minister Oliver’s criticism of the EU policy comes only a day after the Washington-based Center for Global Development ranked Canada in last place among OECD countries in environmental protection.
“There’s a reason Canada ranks lowest among industrialized nations for our climate policies,” said Green Party Climate Change Critic Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. “We've backed out of our Kyoto commitments, we've dramatically weakened our own targets, and our emissions aren’t just not declining quickly enough, they continue to grow.”
The FQD policy is aimed at reducing the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by 6% by the year 2020. Under the system, fuel derived from the oil sands would be rated as 22% more polluting than conventional crude oil.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 294 3034
Well, that’s not quite a fair question. Copenhagen, COP15, will, hopefully for all time, represent the low point in the effort to achieve meaningful action to avert disaster, but for in-between COPs, this one is vying for runner-up to Copenhagen.
Today is the second to last day of negotiations. No progress has been made in most areas of negotiation. The President of the COP, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec (who chairs the meetings and shepherds the process) was fired yesterday by the Prime Minister. He remains president of COP through to the meeting in Lima, Peru next November (COP20). Rumour has it he has been off-side in Poland’s desire to launch massive fracking. And has been replaced in Cabinet with a more frack-friendly minister. It all fits the pro-coal, industry heavy COP atmosphere established by our hosts.
Things are in a serious state of disarray, with delegates reporting episodes of bad faith bargaining, industrialized countries demanding previously agreed upon decisions be re-opened. Canada (with US and New Zealand) bringing in an entirely new proposal to the finance negotiations at 7 am, after negotiating all night. The issues of bad process, bad faith negotiating are compounded by the obvious – the down-graded commitments at Copenhagen, the face-saving sham called the Copenhagen Accord is not being honoured by industrialized countries. The effort to buy time for pollution by throwing money at the developing world – what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did in Copenhagen – was resisted at the time by the poor nations. I remember Tuvulu’s head of delegation saying “We will not sell our children’s future for your 30 pieces of silver.”
Well, okay, admittedly, it was more than 30 pieces of silver; it was $100 billion pieces of silver.
It was a pledge of new climate financing to help the developing world reduce emissions and adapt to those climate impacts we can no longer avoid. It was to start with fast start financing of $10 billion rising to $100 billion/year by 2020. All the other industrialized countries signed on to this, including Canada. The UN system responded by setting up the modalities to handle and distribute the funds. The Green Climate Fund is all set up. It sits there empty. Initial contributions were spent quickly and now there is an empty bank.
Certainly it seemed to me the offer (bribe) was that the money would be steadily ramped up until it reached a level of $100 billion/year. Hillary Clinton was careful to say in 2009 in Denmark that the money would be mobilized from public and private sources of funds. It was not all to be coming from governments. But still, it is a bit hard to swallow the current line here in Warsaw from the US, Canada and other rich countries: don’t expect money in the bank til 2020. Countries are saying, you expect us to believe that suddenly $100 billion will be in the bank in 2020, with nothing there in 2019?
This issue, code named “Finance” is a major sticking point at this COP. NGOs put out buttons, sported now on many lapels: Where’s the Financing? Actually, the button is the abbreviation: WTF?
The log jam, the sense that the rich countries are gaming this COP to avoid taking on either finance commitments, funding for loss and damage, or, most importantly, deeper emission cut commitments, led to a dramatic and historic walk out yesterday. Although some reports have said developing countries walked out, that’s not the case. But hundreds of NGO observers, civil society representatives from environment groups, development groups labour and indigenous groups walked out. The walk out included World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth International, Oxfam, Greenpeace, 350.org, and many others.
In the stock-taking plenary later that day, many delegations, including China expressed thanks to civil society for those actions. (it is fascinating to see a country that makes such protests illegal appreciate them here at COP).
The negotiations went on til the wee hours on many areas. The ADP meeting adjourned early, around 9 pm, but finance went on til the morning.
By all indications, tomorrow (today) Friday, will be a very long day.#COP19 Daily Blog from @ElizabethMay - "Is this the worst COP ever?"
I thought the working session I was in last night had run late – after midnight. But in turns out, that was an early COP evening. The buzz in the morning was that the group working on “loss and damage” had gone til 4 AM, abruptly ending when the delegations from developing countries all walked out. The issue called “loss and damage” (first arising at last year’s COP) comes to this: the community of nations, particularly the industrialized world, having failed to reduce emissions sufficient to avoid climate damage (the opportunities that were squandered in the 1990s), having failed to assist developing countries to put in place robust adaptation measures to reduce damage from killer weather events (having squandered the chances we had to do so in the ‘00s), the poorest of the poor are getting hit with massive storms for which they are unprepared.
We are now down to having developing countries ask for compensation funds for loss and damage. A World Bank Report on Loss and Damage released today said that by 2030, 325 million people could be both very poor and living in areas very susceptible to extreme weather events. By mid-century, the report estimates the losses due to climate change to the world’s coastal cities alone could come to $1 trillion/year, every year.
So at this COP a deal-breaker has emerged as developing countries ask for some way to develop a plan to deal with compensation for loss and damage. And the industrialized countries are saying “no.” This is like the point on the Titanic when lifeboats were only available for First Class passengers.
The maddening horror of this scenario is that we still have time to reduce GHG sufficiently to avoid all of us going down with the ship. We have time to reduce emissions, invest in adaptation, and – yes – find some way to compensate. But we are negotiating as though we have all the time in the world. Neither we, nor the world, have that kind of time anymore.
Back to the day’s events. I started the day with an annual event at COPs – a gathering of Green Party members from around the world who are here. Elected Green Parliamentarians from Belgium, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and a few others are here at COP and we met to review the state of negotiations and share information. They couldn’t believe I was refused to be on the Canadian delegation. (Neither could the head of the UNFCCC secretariat in Bonn, Christina Figueres. I ran into her in the corridors and had a good chat.)
With the Green Party of France in a coalition government there, and France playing a key role as host for COP21 in Paris and the expected COP for a comprehensive treaty, that gives us hope for a supportive government. We also discussed how we could engage in the Sept 23 Climate Leaders’ Summit being organized by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the UN in New York…among many other topics.
Most of my day was spent back in meetings dealing with the ADP. We started with one text, adjourned and got a new draft by 4:30 and had a further revision by 8. At 11 PM, the meeting resumed. As I squeeze in writing some blog notes, I am also tracking interventions on the draft decision of this group. This is typical of UN meetings. The last few days of climate COPS always end up being marathon sessions. Perhaps it breaks down objections to get very exhausted, but I think the negotiators just keep doing it because it seems to work.
Today Minister Aglukkaq spoke at the COP. All ministers speak in rotation at the plenary. She did not announce any new effort. No new funding, no new reduction commitments. You know the set of memorized lines: Canada is a leader, we are working on our sector by sector approach, we must ensure our environment is balanced with our focus on creating jobs, etc. The reaction to the speech was muted. I have not yet seen her.
One last update, check the website to find the letters Leona Aglukkaq sent after I had left for Warsaw. It just arrived in my office. No surprise, I am not invited to join the Canadian delegation. Interestingly, she sends some helpful suggestions for groups that might offer me credentials. Whoever drafted her letter at PMO didn’t realize that there are deadlines in the UN system for seeking credentials, and it was in October. I only joined the Afghanistan delegation because I had already registered as an NGO, and after arriving the head of the Afghanistan delegation Del left the Plenary to walk with me to the registration area to add me to the government delegation. But no one would be allowed to register after the conference had begun.
All for now.4th #COP19 Blog post from @ElizabethMay - Time is running out.
OTTAWA: Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada Leader and MP For Saanich-Gulf Islands, was named Canada's Hardest Working MP of 2013 at last night's Parliamentarian of the Year Awards, an annual event hosted by Maclean’s and L’Actualité.
Members of Parliament are nominated and voted on by their colleagues for 6 different awards, including “Best Orator” and “Most Knowledgeable”, in a poll run by Ipsos-Reid. The MP who receives the highest number of total points across all categories is named Parliamentarian of the Year, a distinction May won last year.
Bruce Hyer, independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, accepted the award on the Green Party Leader’s behalf at a ceremony held last night at the Government Convention Centre. May is currently in Warsaw, Poland, attending the COP 19 UN Climate Conference.
"I really think I only do the work all MPs should do -- work for constituents, try to improve legislation, and do so in the interests of my constituents," said May in a statement from Warsaw. "I am very honoured by this recognition coming from colleagues from all parties within the House of Commons."
This year’s runner-up for Hardest Working MP award was the Hon. Irwin Cotler, MP for Mount Royal.
Green Party of Canada
Cell: 613 614 4916
Today was the official opening of the High-Level portion of the negotiations. My day started with a real thrill, meeting the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Thanks to being an advisor to the Afghanistan delegation, I was in the room for Mr. Ban’s speech to a closed meeting of the developing countries (the Group of 77 and China). The Secretary General made the rounds through all major negotiating groups. His was the first time in the history of the G77 that a U.N. Secretary General has ever addressed them. He is also the first Secretary General to come to the climate COPs. For 1992 Rio Earth Summit, U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali did attend – but that was the largest gathering of heads of government, to that date, in world history. Having a Secretary General fly in to help rescue fragile negotiations has been something only Ban Ki-Moon has done.
Today, he was trying to mobilize political will and promote his Leaders’ Climate Summit, planned for September 23, 2014 in New York. (Just ahead of the General Assembly, when heads of government come to speak to the General Assembly – except for Stephen Harper who leaves New York as others arrive. But that’s another story.)
The goal is to try to obtain additional commitments from heads of government that will improve the negotiations in Lima at COP20. (Heading for a new global deal by COP21).
As I said, that was a highlight…the rest of the day made me wonder if we can possibly get a workable treaty, which depends on progress in Lima, which depends on progress in Warsaw, and which is not apparent at the moment.
I spent most of the day tracking the negotiations on the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action ( “ADP”) on behalf of the Afghanistan delegation. Canada has intervened in these discussions, always on the same page with Australia. The draft text under consideration is largely what large polluters want. It does not maintain the architecture of the convention, under which we are still operating. It attempts to treat developing and industrialized countries the same way. The problem is that they are not the same. The worse problem is that industrialized countries have made commitments and pledges and then broken them. In fairness, the EU and Norway have met their targets and Japan, while falling short, has, at least, substantially reduced emissions. Everyone who is paying attention knows that we are running out of time. This is how the lead negotiator for Colombia put it tonight:
“We are calling for a world with less than 1.5 degrees… the reality is we are heading for a four degree world or higher. The year we are aiming at is 2015. If we want to stay away from a 4 degree world, we have to act.”
(She is awesome, by the way.)
This is how Ban Ki-Moon put it:
“We are the first humans to have ever breathed air with 400 ppm carbon… I was recently warned in Iceland, soon we could be a land with no ice.”
Everyone understands that launching a serious transition away from fossil fuels requires leadership – and leadership from the wealthy nations. What other group of countries has the capacity to do it?
As the negotiator for the Gambia put it, speaking on behalf of the African bloc, “Without leaders, there will be no followers.”
Right now, other than the EU (even they have problems), there are no leaders.
As the clock ticks down on the next three days, we’ll watch and hope that one of the powerful nations, or a country with the capacity to break a dead-lock, demonstrate good faith and build trust, will step up and show leadership. That used to be our role. Now, we are just on the wrong side of history.@ElizabethMay meets with #UNSG Ban Ki-Moon: 3rd blog post from #COP19
I started out early, memories of the appalling arrangements in Copenhagen left me not wanting to take any chances in a cold city. In Copenhagen at COP15, we had to line up and wait outside for hours (day after day) in the bitter cold. Just to be on the safe side, I got to the huge stadium in Warsaw, converted to a convention centre for COP19, at 7 am and only had to wait outside for a half an hour before security guards decided we should be allowed to wait inside where it was warm.
The accreditation from the global Greens, granting me limited access as an observer, was waiting for me, but, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I was hoping to move to a pink badge, identifying me as a member of a government delegation. Of course, all the other Green Parliamentarians here are part of their own government’s delegation – whether they are in opposition or in power.
As previously arranged through email messages, I met with the Deputy Minister of the National Environmental Agency of Afghanistan and head of his country’s delegation, Ghulam Mohd Malikyar. He took me back to registration to request I be listed as a member of his delegation. With only three representatives of the Afghanistan government and one volunteer member of his delegation, Australian academic Dr. Ian McGregor, who has been working with the Afghanistan delegation in climate meetings for several years, my inclusion increased the delegation size by 25%.
I am volunteering to assist a country that has had such a difficult experience through war and conflict. In UN terms, Afghanistan is described as “post-conflict.” In the climate negotiations, Afghanistan works within two country groups – the G77 and China (that’s one group, chaired in this session by Fiji), and the LDCs (least developed countries, chaired in this session by Nepal). These are groups pressing for more climate action and sooner. As an advisor to the Afghanistan delegation, I assist in policy advice, as well as helping them by taking notes in sessions where the small delegation could not stretch to participate.
Ian McGregor, an Australian, and I, a Canadian, decided we had become a new variety of “environmental refugee.” Our own national governments are so dreadful that we are better able to be productive as “refugees” – taken in by another national government.
Today, I also pinned on one of the small red fabric circles worn by delegates to identify as fasting in solidarity with the head of the Philippines delegation.
In substantive terms, today’s discussions centred on a draft text circulated by the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. (Which for some UN acronym-laden reason is referred to as “ADP”.) The co-chairs worked long hours through the weekend to developed a proposed text to form the decision coming out of Warsaw. The next COP will be in Peru, so the Peruvian delegation is particularly concerned that real progress on a text be made in Warsaw. As one (not Peru) delegate commented, the real agreement will be reached in Lima in 2014 and not Paris in 2015, when, with luck, the tough work will have been done well before.
The co-chairs text was not what any of the groups wanted. The rich industrialized laggard club (called the Umbrella Group and including Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, NZ, Russia and Norway – although Norway has great domestic plans, and is on track to go to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020) didn’t like it much, but neither did the G77 and China or the LDCs. The best that can be said is that it is a start to allow serious negotiations to have a text going forward to 2014. You can find all the texts from the COP on the UNFCCC website.
Apparently Minister Aglukkaq arrived today, but I didn’t see her in the conference hall. She will be speaking in the high level segment on Wednesday. She will have some cover as Australia is snatching up the fossil awards this week. The official opening of the high level is tomorrow.
As for me, between jet lag and fasting, and trying to concentrate and do my work, it’s been a long day.
More tomorrow…The latest #COP19 Daily Blog from @ElizabethMay
MONTREAL - Bourassa Green Party of Canada candidate Danny Polifroni is concerned about the use of taxpayer funds for partisan purposes. According to an article published today in Le Devoir, this is a practice employed by several federal parties, including the NDP who mailed partisan literature to Bourassa this fall.
Although MPs have not been allowed to send mail outside of their own riding for over two years, the NDP argue that this is a practice common among the Liberal and Conservative parties. The NDP campaign materials distributed in Bourassa reveal a concerted plan among four NDP MPs who do not represent Bourassa to send partisan literature using taxpayer funds.
Polifroni is worried about this practice, explaining, “We’re constantly talking about corruption, collusion and scadal in the Senate, and it seems to me that these mailings are another example of the use of taxpayer money funding partisan purposes. I want to do politics differently, and I really encourage MPs to do the same. Taxpayer money shoudln’t be used to promote political parties, but rather to serve the people. I’m quite worried about this political strategy.”
Polifroni, who is campaigning on doing politics differently, has published a platform based on transparency, integrity, and openness:
- Polifroni will give back 50% of his MP’s salary to the community of Bourassa. Because his salary comes from the people of Bourassa, Polifroni proposes that the community of Bourassa decide how to use this funding.
- Polifroni will publish his personal MP’s expenses at least twice per year on his website. They will also be available for consultation at his constituency office.
- He will publish a report on his work as an MP four times per year. The report will be available on his website, sent by email, and for those that request it, by mail to their homes.
- Polifroni will serve in a transparent and open way as demonstrated by Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, who was named “Parliamentarian of the year” last year by her peers in the House of Commons.
“The people of Bourassa need to elect an MP who will act in the name of transparency, integrity, and openness. Political parties that use loopholes in House of Commons policies and defend it by saying that they’re just doing what other parties do, are not representing these three values.” Polifroni adds.
- 30 –
For further information:
Communications director, Danny Polifroni for Bourassa
Office: (438) 384-3340
Cell: (514) 965-2074
@DannyPolifroni concerned about use of taxpayer funds for partisan purposes #cdnpoli #bourassa
WARSAW, POLAND: 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.
COP 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.
I will be here, in Warsaw over the next seven days, for what is called the “High Level Segment” of the 19th Conference of the Parties under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is not “high level” in relation to the discourse, but in reference to the presence of ministers leading their national participation. Last week, as is COP tradition, was negotiations led by civil servants. So as of tomorrow, we can expect the Canadian negotiation to be led by newly minted Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq.
The Harper administration continues its outrageous practice of sending delegations to international meetings, not representing Canada, but representing the Conservative Party of Canada. Only Jim Prentice as environment minister did what all previous governments have done and include opposition MPs in the delegation. As far as I know, other than Minister Aglukkaq, I am the only Canadian Parliamentarian attending. I am here with my way paid by the Green Party of Canada and I will receive my U.N. credentials through my membership in the Global Greens. There is a chance a national delegation other than Canada may want my assistance. I sure hope so as “national government” credentials will allow me to be in every room where negotiations take place, and not solely in plenary.
Expectations for progress at COP19 are low. These negotiations work up to a deadline. With the disaster that was Copenhagen in 2009, the new deadline is COP21, to take place in Paris in 2015. The COPs fill in the years to the deadline with mind-numbing work on pieces of a future treaty that will matter – but only matter when and if governments around the world are prepared to be serious about slashing GHG missions. And on that, we are moving in the wrong direction.
Canada’s latest statistics (from Environment Canada earlier this month) make it clear we are losing ground in meeting the Copenhagen target – a target already rejected by climate scientists as far too weak to avoid the more meaningful Copenhagen goal of avoiding a two degree C global average temperature increase. Harper committed to 607 MT of GHG by 2020. In 2012 Environment Canada said we would be emitting 720 MT. Now the projection is up to 734 MT. The Conservative talking point is to take the number they invented last year (over 800 MT and call that “business as usual” or what would happen if no level of government does anything) and torque that number to call it “what would happen under the Liberals.” They are really devoid of shame.
With low expectations when COP19 opened, a wake-up call was issued by the lead Philippine negotiator, Yeb Sano:
“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.”
And he announced he was going on a hunger strike for the duration of the conference. Many other participants are joining in, as am I. So the COP19 email traffic about “join us for dinner…” is punctuated with “even if you are fasting, can you join us for conversation…”
I will try to get a few words into a blog every day to keep you updated.
What I wanted to write today is that the world’s scientists are beginning to give up all hope of sufficient action from politicians to avoid entering very dangerous levels of climatic disruption of the world as we know it. Scientists are beginning to move to the language of triage – who can we save? what parts of the world will be habitable? Can we adapt to climatic disruption on a scale that will make parts of the world uninhabitable?
Many of those most aware of the climate threat, citizens and activists, are beginning to think we are misleading others if we continue to talk about avoiding a two degree global average temperature increase. They say this knowing that we run unacceptably high risks of losing world civilization if we go above two degrees. Over two degrees, human society will increasingly be playing Russian roulette with whether we cross tipping points to run-away global warming.
Here’s a warning from a summary on the Climate News Network, released Nov 16 in Warsaw:
“UN bodies and health authorities are being advised to prepare for a world temperature rise of 4°C because scientists no longer believe that politicians are capable of holding the temperature rise below the internationally agreed limit, 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”
Quoted in the story was Prof. Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College in London:
“We are already planning for a 4°C world because that is where we are heading. I do not know of any scientists who do not believe that. We are just not tackling the enormity of the task we face to keep it below the agreed 2°C danger threshold.
“If we had the kind of politicians we really need we could still put in place policies that can save the planet from going over the danger level. But there is no evidence at the moment that we have that quality of politicians, so we all have to be prepared for the most likely scenario, which is a 4°C rise in temperature. If we do not prepare to adapt we simply won’t be able to.” (Emphasis added).
The key to staying below two degrees global average temperature increase is to insist that those same politicians who committed to a weak political cop out of an accord in Copenhagen actually be expected to live up to it.
We know the current levels of commitments are too weak to avoid two degrees. We knew that from IPCC number crunching within weeks of the commitments being made in Copenhagen. What we cannot afford to do is give up on political action. The science won’t budge. The technologies to solve the problem are available. We have to stop enabling our political “leaders” to walk away.
It’s time to stop enabling politicians by allowing them to live up to our low expectations for them. We enable them by expecting them to be useless. It’s time to start demanding — through our votes—through our protests and marches and petitions and unrelenting pressure – that they make good on their promises.
Climate activists must not give up on demanding that we stay below 2 degrees. While doing so, we can and must, be clear that on current commitments, we will blow right by two degrees. So our work must be more urgent, more direct, less sugar coated. What we cannot do is give up on our own and our children’s future with a collective shrug.Warsaw COP19 – Daily Blog