Canada, Climate Change & the Bali Conference

December 3 – 14 2007

United Nations Climate Change Conference – Bali, 3 – 14 December 2007
The thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and third Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 3) opened on Monday morning. These were followed in the afternoon by the opening of the 27th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 27) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 27), as well as the resumed fourth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG 4). Delegates considered organizational matters and began their substantive work.
UN Climate Change Conference Website
Daily coverage and photos from IISD

December 14
Envoys take overnight break as Bali conference extended
… A few countries, including Canada, have been heavily criticized at the talks for blocking a climate-change framework that includes hard targets.
The Canadian Press reported a draft of a final report had been circulated to delegates that predicts global emissions will “peak” within 10 or 15 years and must fall to well under half of 2000 levels by 2050. It calls on countries to take “enhanced action.”
The reference to 2000 will come as a letdown to many Kyoto Protocol signatories — especially Europeans. For more than a decade, 1990 has been the agreed-upon international standard used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions.
Aside from Canada, the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Russia also oppose such language for the emissions limits.
In the final day of the two-week conference, delegates sparred over the wording of the final document until 2:30 a.m. local time Friday morning, before the smaller group broke off into extended meetings to work out the statement’s final language. … A spokesman for John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, told CBC News on Friday it was “crunch time” at the talks.
Baird has insisted Canada won’t accept a climate deal unless it includes major polluters like the U.S., China and India — a position that drew the apparent scorn of former U.S. vice-president Al Gore during the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s address to the 190-nation conference on Thursday.

December 13
Gore quotes NHL icon in apparent dig at Canada’s climate stance
Over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. You must anticipate that.‘—Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore

In language suited to the ears of Canadians, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore quoted the wisdom of a hockey legend on Thursday at a summit in Bali, apparently criticizing Canada’s stance on climate change during UN talks on the issue.
Although he never named Canada directly, Gore’s hockey-referencing address to the 190-nation summit hinted that he was pointing a finger at Canada for blocking a climate-change framework that includes hard targets. That document would set binding targets of a 25 to 40 per cent reduction for industrialized nations by 2020.
Aside from Canada, the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Russia also oppose such language for the emissions limits.
Gore blasted the U.S. as “principally responsible” for the stalemate at the talks over emission controls. He also heaped scorn on the idea that the world can only have an effective climate treaty if the U.S. signs on — the exact position articulated by Canada. …
EU nations threaten to boycott U.S. talks
Gore’s comments came the same day Canadian Environment Minister John Baird took the podium at the UN climate summit, and as European Union nations threatened to boycott a U.S.-sponsored meeting next month unless Washington accepts their figures for negotiating deep reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Baird has said Canada won’t accept a climate deal unless it includes major polluters like the U.S., China and India.
Earlier in the day, Baird told the conference his government accepts the scientific evidence that supports the global warming phenomenon, and he acknowledged Canada is feeling the impact of climate change. He reiterated the Conservatives’ “realistic” plan to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions “an absolute” 20 per cent from current levels by 2020.
“National circumstances must be taken into account,” he said. “Climate change cannot be fought through a cookie-cutter approach.”
Also in Bali, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion urged the Conservatives to heed Gore’s message and accused Baird of misleading the conference. “I think he has not been candid with the assembly and he has two days now to put his gestures in conformity with his speech,” Dion said.

December 12
Janet Bagnall in The Gazette
Canadians should be ashamed of our government’s actions in Bali
We’re one of the world’s Top 10 polluters, yet we try to undermine the climate talks
With Australia committed to signing Kyoto, thanks to its new prime minister, the three nations remaining at the bottom of the index suffered the further indignity of receiving Fossil of the Day awards from youth groups attending Bali. Saudi Arabia won for refusing to endorse any emissions target; the U.S. for “blocking the international effort to fight climate change”; and Canada for “telling a committee in Bali that emission-reduction obligations were not necessary for all largest emitting countries.”
It seems unlikely that Canada could do much worse, but apparently we are about to, according to reports out of Bali this week. Criticism of Canada’s performance is coming from all directions. After meeting Canadian Environment Minister John Baird, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a press conference in Bali: “I personally find it interesting to hear Canada just a little while ago indicating it would not meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and now calling on developing countries to take binding reduction targets.”
… In Bali, CTV reported, an increasing number of scientists and other countries are blaming Canada for spearheading, along with the U.S. and Japan, opposition to the draft UN resolution calling for developed countries to cut emissions by 25 per cent to 40 per cent by 2020.
By the weekend, our obstructionist delegation will be back in Canada. Baird might be unconvinced by science and the concerns of another 170 countries, but seeing him through the astonished eyes of the rest of the world should prove an eye-opener for Canadians.

Canadian youth delegation storms out
The young people are upset with Environment Minister John Baird at UN climate talks in Bali.
By ALEXANDER PANETTA, CP
BALI, INDONESIA — A Canadian youth delegation stormed out of a government-sponsored event at the UN climate talks yesterday when Environment Minister John Baird cancelled his appearance.
Moderator Pierre Marc Johnson said Baird had to leave because of sudden, late-evening developments in the climate negotiations.

December 10
Baird pledges $86M to help Canadians adapt to climate change
Environment Minister John Baird has promised $85.9 million over the next four years to help Canadians deal with the effects of climate change.
The money will be used to help communities already feeling the effects of climate change, such as areas in Western Canada where pine beetles are surviving warmer winters and stripping forests.
It would also go toward researching the effects of climate change in the North, where communities say roads and buildings are crumbling as permafrost melts and ancestral Inuit hunting patterns are being disrupted.
Asked how the plan will differ from the one his government killed upon entering office, Baird appeared caught off-guard and said he’d check the details, the Canadian Press reported.
Over the weekend, Canada also pledged $7.5 million to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change. More

CBC Radio, The Current
Bali Climate Conference Update
Last week was a tough one for Canadian officials at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali. Ottawa’s insistence that there can be no new climate change deal if it doesn’t cover major carbon emitters like the United States and China has made Canada something of a punching bag for environmental activists, diplomats and climate scientists. Last week, two European environmental groups released a report that ranked Canada 53rd out of 56 countries when it comes to taking action on global warming. That puts us ahead of only Australia, the United States and Saudi Arabia and well behind China, which was listed at number 40.
To explain why Canada has got such a frosty reception and tell us if it’s gotten any better with the beginning of the conference’s second week, we were joined by Michael McAuliffe, the CBC’s Asia Correspondent in Bali.
Bali Climate Conference Update – Canada’s Role
David Runnalls, President and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, [who has] just spent the weekend participating in discussions on trade and climate change issues hosted by the Indonesian government [on] how Canada’s role in Bali is being perceived. Listen to audio (Part 3)

December 9
Stop climate ‘sabotage,’ PM told
UN talks Government to dig in heels – document
MIKE BLANCHFIELD, CanWest News Service
The Harper government is deliberately sabotaging attempts to forge a new climate change agreement at the United Nations conference in Bali, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion charged yesterday.
Dion’s criticism came after a leaked government document showed that Canada would stick firm to its position that binding emissions targets should apply to all countries, including major emitters like China and India.
The document shows that the government is holding to the line that it staked out last month at the Commonwealth summit in Uganda that all countries should be brought on board at once on a new accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. More

December 6


Wednesday Night’s Jamie Webbe highlighted the need to mainstream vulnerability and adaptation in policy at the side event on Biodiversity – climate interactions: adaptation, mitigation and human livelihoods

December 4
Canada flounders on issue of climate change
Canada is attending the Bali conference not long after two developments placed an uncomfortable spotlight on Canada’s official hypocrisy about how to deal with the devastating effects of global warming.
Last week, the UN Development Program severely criticized Canada for its failure to address climate change. It described Canada as an “extreme case” of ‘all talk’ and ‘no action’ and noted that Canadians leave the second largest ‘carbon footprint’ per capita in the world after the United States. According to the UN report, it would require nine planets if everyone on Earth had the same footprint.
A few days earlier at a Commonwealth meeting in Uganda, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was widely blamed in the British and African media for blocking a draft agreement that called for developed countries to meet greenhouse-gas targets. Canada’s position is that it wants all countries to be part of an agreement, including developing countries such as China and India.
According to Environment Minister John Baird, Canada has gone to Bali to push for a “constructive” agreement involving all countries, but it is hard to fathom what credibility Canada has left to achieve this. On this issue — and not only this issue — Canada seems more and more isolated on the world stage. Complete Post

Baird chose his advisers well
The Gazette, Editorial
If Environment Minister John Baird is serious about wanting frank, uncompromising advice during his time at the United Nations-led climate-change talks in Bali, he has chosen his entourage well: There is former Parti Québécois premier Pierre Marc Johnson; Elizabeth Dowdeswell, president of Nuclear Waste Management; Ian Morton, chief executive of Summerhill Group, which helps corporations to make green choices; and Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Inuit across the country.
Johnson, in an interview with La Presse, said he is conscious of the fact he is accompanying a minister of a government that has come in for severe and sustained criticism for its stand on the Kyoto Protocol.
… If Johnson brings the same sense of urgency and no-nonsense pragmatism to Bali that he displayed during the de la Concorde overpass inquiry, the Conservative government will be well served.
The question of whether Canada and the rest of the world benefit from Johnson’s clear-eyed analysis will depend on what use Baird makes of it, and of what his other experts have to say. We will have to hope the world’s countries realize we must pull together to save the planet.

December 3
But will they listen to him? Or the other (any) advisors?
Tories turn to ex-PQ premier for Bali talks

Move could be critical in Quebec, where Conservatives face heat for Kyoto criticisms
BRIAN LAGHI Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — The Conservative government has moved to burnish its environmental credentials and head off Quebec opposition to its global warming plan by appointing a former Parti Québécois premier to lead its advisory team at a critical international meeting.
Sources have told The Globe and Mail that Pierre-Marc Johnson, Quebec premier for part of 1985, will head the panel that will counsel the government on how to proceed at meetings in Bali, Indonesia, that start Monday.
The move also appears to be an effort to blunt criticism from those angry that the government will not take opposition politicians to the meeting.
The Quebec government has expressed dissatisfaction with the federal environmental position in advance of the meetings, which are aimed at finding a way forward after the Kyoto environmental accord runs out in 2012.

December 3
CBC’s The Current – excellent, thoughtful commentaries on Canada’s position on climate change , including Radoslav Dimitrov, a negotiations analyst for the United Nations and a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, who points out that, while [the Bali meeting is] indisputably about combatting climate change, [it is] also very much about politics.

UN climate change conference hails Australia Kyoto signing
More than 10,000 scientists, bureaucrats and politicians from 186 countries have gathered Monday on the Indonesian island of Bali for the beginning of what is perhaps the world’s largest-ever conference on climate change.
Monday’s session opened with delegates giving a standing ovation for Australia as the country’s delegate, Howard Bamsey, announced Canberra was ratifying the Kyoto accord.
The move ends more than a decade of resistance to the environmental pact and leaves the United States as the sole developed nation that has not recognized the accord.
…The first week of the Bali conference will see scientists and bureaucrats debating the two main issues of climate mitigation, or how to get countries to reduce the carbon emissions that are raising world temperatures, and climate adaptation, aimed largely at helping the developing world prepare for higher ocean levels and extreme weather conditions.
The second week will feature the political element as the world’s environment ministers try to agree on launching a new round of global treaty talks.
Canada to encourage ‘constructive’ agreement: Baird
Shortly before leaving Sunday, Environment Minister John Baird said Canada will head to Bali with a “solid” plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and will push for a “constructive” agreement with other countries — including the world’s big emitters of China, India and the United States — to encourage global reductions.

AS A meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) got underway in Bali on Monday December 3rd, there was immediately one piece of news for activists to celebrate. On the same day Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was sworn into office and promptly signed documents to ratify the Kyoto protocol, reversing his predecessor’s policy. More from The Economist

November 29
Dion to travel to Bali climate change summit
OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Stephane Dion says he will travel to Bali, Indonesia, next month for the United Nations climate change summit to ensure that the Harper government doesn’t push the world in the wrong direction in the fight against global warming. …
Dion said he has asked the government to accommodate him as part of the official Canadian delegation, but he has not received an answer yet. He did not say, however, how he would pay for his trip if the government refuses. …
Bloc Quebecois environment critic Bernard Bigras and NDP critic Nathan Cullen have both indicated that they are making their own arrangements to attend the conference after the government refused to accept them in the official Canadian delegation. Environment Minister John Baird has said he doesn’t want to invite them in order to prevent partisan bickering on the international stage, but the opposition has suggested that he wants to avoid being criticized or embarrassed.

November 27
OTTAWA: UN CRITICIZES CANADA ON ENVIRONMENT (RCI)
A UN report has called on developed nations to start fulfilling their promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to provide tens of billion of dollars to help the world’s poor countries to adapt to global warming. The 2007 Human Development Report says wealthy nations should not only take the lead in cutting emissions but also come up with $86 billion by 2015 to assist their less advantaged neighbours on the planet. The report says that developed countries aren’t fulfilling the emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, describing Canada as an extreme example. Canada became a signatory of Kyoto under the previous Liberal Party government but the present Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while not abjuring Kyoto, has said its targets are impossible to achieve. At the Commonwealth summit last weekend in Uganda, Mr. Harper said Kyoto was fatally flawed because it doesn’t apply to such polluters of the developing world as India and China. Federal opposition parties reacted by calling the prime minister an environmental saboteur. Next week, the UN will hold an international environmental conference in Indonesia to lay the framework of a new world accord on global warming to take effect after Kyoto expires in 2012.

November 26
Opposition parties pile on Harper over his climate-change stand
By John Ward, THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA – Opposition MPs are calling Prime Minister Stephen Harper a saboteur, an environmental criminal and an international pariah for his refusal to sign on to a hardline climate-change deal at the Commonwealth meeting in Africa.
Vitriol flowed freely in question period on Monday as MPs condemned the prime minister’s insistence that he won’t sign a climate agreement that exempts developing countries, but sets binding targets for the developed world.
The opposition said Harper was out of step with Canadians and had shamed the country.
“Instead of leading by example, this prime minister engaged in sabotage of the Commonwealth conference,” said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. “When you’re Canada, you lead.” More

25 November
Harper has it his way
Canada will not lead the way – Canada is standing in the way. Stéphane Dion
MIKE BLANCHFIELD, CanWest News Service
KAMPALA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has “embarrassed Canada on the world stage” by blocking a consensus among more than 50 Commonwealth countries to endorse binding commitments on industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion charged yesterday.
“The prime minister does not believe in climate change – does not believe that it’s so dangerous for the future of humanity,” Dion said in an interview. More

24 November
Harper gov’t blocks binding commitment on climate
KAMPALA, Uganda — Canada has successfully blocked more than 50 Commonwealth countries that were seeking a climate change resolution that would force developed countries to adopt a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper successfully pressed for the deletion of key wording in a climate change communique that would have specified that all members support a “binding commitment” on developed countries to reduce emissions by specific targets.
Australia was the only other country to share Canada’s position, but with the defeat of John Howard’s government Saturday, the new Labour government was poised to ratify the Kyoto climate change accord, leaving Canada as the only Commonwealth country to oppose that wording. More

How quickly the tune changes! Less than a week ago, we were commenting on Minister John Baird’s conversion (see Comment) as he was trumpeting “”The science is clear and Canada, like the rest of the world needs to take immediate action on climate change. …”The timing of this report couldn’t be better,” added Minister Baird.”The Prime Minister and I understand that climate change is a global problem, requiring global solutions. Canada has been a leader in bringing the world together at the G8, at APEC and at the United Nations, and we will continue that work in Bali.” [But apparently NOT in Kampala DTN]

Canada gets its way on climate change (Globe & Mail)
KAMPALA, Uganda — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he still wants a new global climate-change treaty that includes binding targets for every country.
That’s the position Canada will take to critical climate talks in Indonesia next month, he says, where world governments will seek to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto accord.
The comments come during a Commonwealth summit in Uganda at which Mr. Harper’s government helped strip away any reference to binding targets.
Commonwealth leaders agreed to a much watered-down agreement after Mr. Harper resisted any reference to binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. More

KAMPALA (Reuters) – The Commonwealth of mostly former British colonies said on Saturday climate change threatened the survival of its small island members but failed to agree on any binding commitments to combat it.
A “Climate Action Plan,” issued on the second day of a Commonwealth summit, contained only vague language on the way forward in the battle against global warming … Canada had insisted on Friday that it would sign no agreement in Kampala unless any targets included all major emitters.

KAMPALA: CANADA CALLED OBSTRUCTIONIST ON CLIMATE CHANGE (RCI)
The Canadian Press reports that Canada and Australia are blocking an accord on global warming at the current summit of the 52-member Commonwealth meeting in Uganda. An accord would provide momentum for the UN conference on climate change next month in Indonesia. Canada’s official position is that the country won’t accept any accord involving emissions reduction targets unless developing countries that are major polluters do so as well. … it would be better for Canada to set an example for countries like India and China instead of engaging in public relations maneuvres. A spokeswoman for Mr. Harper said the world’s biggest polluters must be party to any new accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change because without such inclusion the accord would be ineffective and economically punitive to industrially developed nations that implemented it.

23 November
Canada faces Commonwealth pressure on climate change
Mike Blanchfield, CanWest News Service
KAMPALA — An increasingly isolated Canada is facing behind the scenes pressure at the Commonwealth summit to back a climate change resolution that would force developed countries to adopt a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada and Australia are the only countries … that oppose the wording of a climate change communique that would specify that all members support a “binding commitment” to reduce emissions by specific targets.
Commonwealth members want their summit to present a united front and provide momentum going into the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali, which is trying to develop a plan to find ways to cut carbon emissions from 2012 onward. More

Leaders of Commonwealth states are focusing on climate change during the second day of their summit in Uganda.
Most members want to issue a strong statement ahead of next month’s UN talks on a new deal to cut CO2 gases – replacing the Kyoto protocol. But the 53-member group is yet to reach a consensus on the issue, amid reported opposition from Canada and Australia. (BBC)

November 22
OPPOSITION WON’T BE PART OF DELEGATION A CLIMATE CONFERENCE
The Conservative government has broken with tradition by having decided to exclude opposition MPs from the official delegation to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, next month. A spokesman for Environment Minister John Baird has confirmed that the three opposition parties represented in the House of Common won’t be part of the delegation. The opposition was, however, included in the last major UN environmental conference in Nairobi, Kenya, last November [and we all remember then- Environment Minister Ambrose’s abysmal performance at that! DTN]. Mr. Baird’s spokesman explained that he “…is going to Indonesia to work for global action on climate change, not [to] fight partisan battles.” The three opposition parties denounced the decision, the Liberals pointing out that when their leader Stéphane Dion was environment minister he brought along Conservative environment critic Bob Mills “to pretty much everything.” (RCI)

 


3 Comments on "Canada, Climate Change & the Bali Conference"

  1. John Barnes December 6, 2007 at 8:43 am · Reply

    Stephen Harper is my HERO! Someone with the “onions” to stand up to the facists and refuse to drink the KoolAid of AGW because the DATA doesn’t support it. He will feel the full wrath of the AGW Gestapo, and God help him to stand firm for true science!

  2. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 12, 2007 at 10:14 am · Reply

    Canada has won nine [Fossil Awards] until Dec 12, including one “for demanding absolute binding emissions targets for both developing and developed countries from the start, in a clear attempt to sabotage Bali progress.”
    The citation said: “Canada’s per capita emissions are five times those of China and ten times those of India. Canada urges us to follow the model of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone protection — but Canada has forgotten that the Montreal Protocol began with developed country commitments only. Developing countries took binding limits only later, with extra time for compliance and financial support from developed nations.” More on Fossil Awards

  3. Michael December 12, 2007 at 4:49 pm · Reply

    everyone is over-reacting over this

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