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The United Nations’ annual climate change negotiations (Conference of the Parties – COP 18) wrapped up this past weekend with next to no progress, despite increasing evidence that urgent action is needed to cut greenhouse gases that cause global warming, and take steps to adapt to a changing planet.

The conference was held in Doha, Qatar. More than 17,000 delegates took part, including labour representatives.

Following two weeks of talks, there is still no real cut in emissions planned and no concrete finances promised for developing countries to adapt to climate change.

Outcomes from the negotiations include:

  • A weak extension of the Kyoto Protocol to 2020, however this excludes Canada (we withdrew a year ago), and now New Zealand, Russia and Japan have also backed away from the Kyoto Protocol extension period. The United States never signed on to Kyoto in the first place, and neither did emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil, so the current extension only covers approximately 15 per cent of global emissions, so the extension cannot be regarded as progress.
  • No details, pathway or firm commitment from developed nations’ governments for financing for the developing world for climate change adaptation was established. Previously, $100 billion a year, starting in 2020, was pledged.

It is increasingly clear that these UN negotiations under deliver on real climate change action and are losing traction. State governments that are represented at the COPs – for the most part – refuse to set a course for valid climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Particularly with Stephen Harper’s anti-environmental and pro-reckless resource exploitation agenda, it is clear that CUPE members and all Canadians should look elsewhere (such as municipally) for signs of progress on climate change in this country. However, this is no time to step away from our commitments on national and international levels. More pressure must be placed on Harper’s government to put the climate back on the national agenda. It is time the federal government be held to account by all Canadians to cut greenhouse gas emissions, advance a good green jobs agenda, and develop a just transition strategy for workers.