The Harper Conservative government has once again been an obstructive force at the annual United Nations climate change talks. Harper’s government went to Durban determined to protect profits from Canada’s high-carbon resource economy ahead of moving the world to a green economy and a climate-stable future.
Negotiators representing more than 190 countries have finished their two weeks of meetings in South Africa with little to show that the world is serious about stopping climate change.
Represented by federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, Canada went into the talks doing all it could to thwart a new deal. But as Durban proceeded, Canada became increasingly irrelevant as other core environment ministers set the terms of a new deal. Canada under Harper continues to be viewed as a pariah state on climate change.
And this Monday, just a few hours after returning from Durban, Minister Kent added more insult and injury. In a cynical, regressive and dangerous move for the planet, Harper’s government announced it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.
Speaking on behalf of 615,000 members, CUPE national president Paul Moist said, “On the issue of tackling climate change, I believe Canadians are not only ashamed but angry with their government. The Harper Conservative government is not only doing nothing domestically, it is doing everything it can to stall the process internationally. I invite all those who do want action – provincial and municipal governments, unions, civil society, business – to work together in our communities and in our workplaces on battling climate change,” said Moist.
“We must put pressure on the federal government to change its policy. In the meantime, we must do our part. We cannot get too frustrated or discouraged at the slow international process, or the polluters will win and future generations will lose. These talks are necessary, but are not enough. We have to do so much more.”
Many NGOs present in Durban stated that Canada should have stayed home rather than gone to the negotiations in bad faith. The Harper Conservative government has all but abandoned the international community, particularly the most vulnerable nations of the world in Africa that are being battered by climate change through drought, chronic food shortages and political instability.
Harper’s government represents the interests of polluters, not the people of this country. Harper will not change his stripes until he pays the political price for putting polluters first.
Canadians reject the inaction of the federal government on implementing a plan to stop climate change. At other levels of government and within our workplaces and communities, Canadians must continue to work for a greener and more equitable society.