Canada: the worst country at the Poznan UN talks
On the final day of negotiations at the Poznan UN Climate Conference, Canada was named the most obstructive country, winning a total of 10 "Colossal Fossil" awards. The Fossil awards are presented and selected from the Climate Action Network, a group that includes more than 400 non-governmental organizations.
"Canada played a shameful role here in Poznan, as this 'prize' confirms," said Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada.
"Canada needs to stop blocking progress and finally start showing some leadership."
It was definitely difficult standing there and watching Canada be named the country that has been the most obstructive towards a new global climate agreement, especially with revelations a couple of days ago that Canada had the second worst climate change plan in the world, ahead of only Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing that I have witnessed is the various ways in which Minister Prentice and chief ambassador Michael Martin in Poznan have dodged the accusations and have kept insisting that they are playing a "constructive" role in Poznan.
"People are quite concerned about this and they've made it clear that they want to see this as a priority, and so the government is addressing it as such," Prentice said in a press conference which I attended.
"Not everyone necessarily agrees with our positions, however, we have been quite clear that we wish to be a constructive force in concluding an effective international protocol."
Minister Prentice insists that he believes in the climate science put forth by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which calls for reduction targets of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, however the proposals and positions being put forth are either defiant or completely ignore the science.
Also worrisome coming out of this conference are actions by Canada that have implications for indigenous peoples.
"The actions of Canada in Poland are designed to undermine the rights of indigenous people here and elsewhere," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine. "It's completely unacceptable."
As part of the talks, negotiators were considering the extent of the rights that indigenous people have over the forests they live in. But Canada and a number of other countries argued successfully against making mention of these rights in a new international climate-change pact.
With the political discourse now focusing on the economy, will the Canadian public notice and urge that climate change become a top priority? In my question to him, Minister Prentice suggested that he couldn't tell me "how often" climate change would come up in parliament. But with the deadline for a new climate agreement due in 2009 and Canada's damaging proposals currently being put forth, it seems to me that climate change should become the core issues that politicians and all Canadians should care about, before its too late.