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Day 8: Canada's Kyoto position exposed for what it is

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Kyoto Protocol news:

As UN climate talks continue in Durban, South Africa, Canada's reputation continues its downward spiral. As highlighted in earlier blogs, Canada's position on not signing a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol hinges on the argument that we need one deal that includes all major polluters.

According to CBC and other news outlets, China is bringing forward a proposal to agree to binding emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol. Great news right? How many times has Minister Kent pointed the finger at China as why Canada won't sign a second commitment period (too many to count). Minister Kent's response to China's announcement? While they want to see the details, Kent has already stated that it won't affect Canada's position on not signing a second commitment period. Why? Because Canada's position isn't about getting all players under one deal. As I've stated before, it is about the advancement of a weak single international agreement with voluntary targets and more loopholes building on the Copenhagen/Cancun framework.

Thankfully, the Canadian Youth Delegation were prepared to respond in Durban and crashed Minister Kent's press conference in their snazzy bitu-men's wear corporate suits. Check out their photo stream here.

Too little, too late?

There is a lot of chatter at the talks about 2015 and 2020 as the timeline we'll see an agreement on climate change emerge (guess which date the Harper government is banking on). Don't worry, you aren't the only one feeling a bit of déjà-vu. Remember the whole build up to the Copenhagen climate talks? The ads, the news coverage, the 100,000 person march? Remember the prediction that 2010 was THE year for a new climate deal? This certainly doesn't instil a lot of hope in these talks, particularly given the weak commitments and loopholes (like expanding the carbon market to include soil/agriculture and more carbon offsets) being negotiated. Meanwhile, climate science continues to evolve and point to climate change unfolding at an even quicker pace than predicted, leading many of us questioning whether we are reaching a climate tipping point when we are faced with irreversible consequences of our governments irresponsibility.

Hitting the streets: System change not climate change

While there has been little forward movement inside the talks, people hit the streets in Durban and around the world for a global day of action on December 3. In Durban, a number of Canadians came together in a delegation in the march carrying a Canadian maple leaf symbol with a pipeline and smoke stake on it. In Canada (to name a few events,) there was a teach-in in Toronto featuring speakers and videos followed by a march in solidarity with Occupy Toronto, there was a System Change not Climate Change rally in Vancouver and rally on the stairs of Parliament in Edmonton.

The messages of the these movements are critical and are far more in tune with what our communities need and what is needed to address the crisis of climate change. We know what needs to be done. There are plenty of solutions available to us (I highlighted a number in my first Durban blog). Some cost little and are easily implemented, some will require serious investments and will lead to broader changes.

While staying on this path may seem easier in the short-term (change in all forms can be challenging) and certainly ensures healthy profits for Big Oil which invests heavily in anti-climate science campaigns, the reality is that not dealing with this problem will be far worse (if you don't believe me, read James Hansen's latest book, or follow Nature science journals).

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