Canada, Let’s Get to Work

Canada’s hot ticket to winning this weekend is through ambitious climate finance.  Any decision on climate financing will follow straight from the Copenhagen fast-track climate financing decision.  Canada has not yet announced how much it will contribute to this funding, or if this money will be additional to our official development assistance.  The fast-track financing contributes a total of 30 billion dollars for mitigation and adaptation programs in developing countries.  In a report published by the Pembina Institute, Canada’s fair share of the total amount is 3 to 4% (roughly $300 to $400 million dollars per year by the year 2010).  In a February 1st speech, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said:

A statement by Minister Prentice suggesting we will do our fair share.

A statement by Minister Prentice suggesting we will do our fair share.

The [Copenhagen] Accord’s attempt to build a sustainable bridge between developed and developing countries [is one reason] why Canada was so willing to agree to contribute our fair share to the $30-billion “quick-start” fund.  And this money will assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries with mitigation, adaptation, capacity building, and technology transfer. It is the first step towards establishing a new Green Climate Fund.

In his speech, Minister Prentice articulates the equity principles that underline these entire negotiations – it is the idea that wealthy countries have the capacity to finance climate solutions more than poor countries.  The equity principle is not just an ethical concern but is central to the negotiations and any tenable agreement.   The strong reference to climate change equity made by Minister Prentice gives us reason to hope that Canada has the will to do it’s fair share.

Keep Up the Pressure!

Instead of a convention center, the negotiations in Bonn are held in a hotel.  I am told there is nothing unusual or odd about a hotel UN conference (the intersessionals always convene here), but something is strange… almost as-if a wedding party can be found just around the corner.  But far from celebratory, the negotiators in the Hotel Maritim seem weary, and tired.  The Bonn atmosphere cannot be more different from Copenhagen.  There is a small presence of NGOs, and the number of Canadians totaled here in Bonn: 3.

I do not think that our smaller numbers indicate a lowered interest in the negotiations.  In fact, I think there is a heightened awareness around the UN process coming out of Copenhagen – and communities back home are more focused on solutions.  This fits well with the new 350.org motto “get to work.” Back home this motto is already a reality.  A lot of Canadian’s are collaborating, setting the political base for strong legislation, and creating solutions without even necessarily knowing it! I want to outline two affirming updates I recieve in my inbox today.

Our task will be humbling; our actions will be too many to count.

Our task will be humbling; our actions will be too many to count.

1.) Canada’s Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311). This Wednesday April 14th, Parliament Hill will take a final vote on Bill C-311 – our most ambitious climate legislation that, if passed, will set national greenhouse gas emission targets for Canada that align with scientific targets for avoiding dangerous climate changeLearn more about the Bill and how to take action.

Sign on bridge reads: Canadian's Care - Climate Action Now.

Canadian's Care - Climate Action Now.

2.) Renew Canada’s ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes Program. On March 31st, Natural Resources Canada cancelled it’s ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes Program.  Tangible actions like home retrofits are exactly the kind of results driven programs that Canada needs to reduce it’s greenhouse gas emissions. It shows the world that Canadians and the Government take seriously the new climate change motto of “Get to Work.”  You can help to bring the ecoENERGY program back by writing your Member of Parliament who you can find here or read a backgrounder on the program.

These talks are important.  Big decisions (deal breaker ones) are made at the UNFCCC because it is the only international framework we have. But right now the UNFCCC is not where the leadership is shown; it seems most evident in communities back home.  I want to take this moment to thank and recognize all of those people working hard for change, and staying positive.  It is evident that people care, and that everyday Canadians are getting to work.  The poet Wendell Berry describes the new ethos of Canada’s community-based leadership -

Our tasks “will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.”

Working together we will refocus international efforts back on solutions.  No more loopholes, no more excuses.  Canada, let’s get to work!


[Special thanks to Andrew Cuddy with his help writing this blog]