Experts respond to outcome of UN climate talks in Doha

While saddened and shamed by Canadian government performance in Doha, I am so proud of our hard-working environmental representatives, especially the Canadian youth. Here is their summary press release on the outcome.

- Elizabeth


Experts respond to outcome of UN climate talks in Doha

Rich countries brought little to the table to fulfill their promises in Doha

(Doha, Qatar) This year’s UN climate talks wrapped up after many hours of dramatic overtime with little to speak of in terms of progress on addressing the ambition gap or ensuring poor countries have adequate financial support they need to deal with climate impacts. The framework is in place to move towards a global deal in 2015, but unless countries take action at home and inject political will into these negotiations, that deal will remain elusive and we will continue on our current pathway to 4 degrees or more of global warming.

The controversy that erupted towards the end of the session was a powerful message from poorer countries that their demands for ambitious action are only going to grow as they get hit harder and harder by a changing climate that they did next to nothing to contribute to.

Climate Action Network Canada members responded to the outcome as follows:

“I would like to know how our leaders from countries like ours can be so indifferent to the looming reality of a world 4 degrees warmer than today. The science is clear, the solutions exist, the economy is thirsty for it, and the impacts of inaction are increasingly devastating – so where is the political will and leadership? Leaders let the world down again this year by coming to the table largely empty-handed on meaningful ways to close the growing gap between where they are and where they have promised to be to avoid 2 degrees of global warming. The Canadian Government was determined to lead the race to the bottom on the central issue of finance, insisting on holding out for at least 3 more years until they contribute to the Green Climate Fund. In Doha the critical path we need to be on is still alive in this process, but it needs leadership and political will to move forward and that is clearly missing here.”

- Hannah McKinnon, Campaigns Director, Climate Action Network Canada

"Bopha, Sandy, floods in Pakistan, droughts in China... How many reports from the likes of the World Bank, NASA and the International Energy Agency will it take? How many preventable catastrophes until our leaders realize that climate change will not be solved by nice speeches and empty promises? Countries like Canada and the U.S. have promised to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution and provide adequate financial support for developing countries, they have so far failed on both counts."

- Steven Guilbeault, Deputy Director, Equiterre

“The package we got today in Doha won’t keep us on a secure pathway to prevent warming of more than two degrees. We have a very vague process that might lead to increased ambition but only if political will shifts. In recent years we have seen a serious lack of political will from countries like the US and Canada who have continually blocked the process. This crisis was created by wealthy big polluters like Canada and the U.S., and they need to step up and show leadership in solving it. Governments must stop working for the polluters, and start working for the people. In order to do this, Canada must stop reckless tar sands expansion and pipelines projects.”

- Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada

“World leaders have failed in their commitments at COP18, Canada most of all. Canada’s lack of ambition and commitment with these negotiations is rooted in the unsustainable expansion of the tar sands and the influence of dirty energy, dirty money and dirty politics. In spite of the cries of youth from around the world we are far behind keeping temperatures within the 2 °C limit. This will have serious implications in the most vulnerable parts of the world, where the people who are the least responsible for creating this crisis are experiencing, and will continue to experience, this devastating climate legacy.In terms of finance, Hurricane Sandy alone is set to cost $60 billion, the same amount being asked for in climate finance in Doha. If one storm costs that, its clearly nowhere near enough for the whole world.”

-Perla Hernandez, Canadian Youth Delegation, COP18

“Despite demands from civil society both within and outside of the country for responsible action, the federal government had outraged us again both nationally and internationally by continuing to defend business as usual, and by blocking ambitious achievements at the global scale. We demand that the Canadian government put an end to this inaction and join provincial and local governments in taking a strong stand against locking us into infrastructure that fuels our dangerous addiction to tar sands and shale gas.”

- Aida Ahmadi, Climate and Energy Campaigner, AQLPA

"As the conference ends, I am very concerned about rules of conduct tightening for civil society participation. With more and more restrictions, the contribution to the process by environmental groups, and especially the youth, is seriously compromised."

- Catherine Gauthier, ENvironnement JEUnesse Ambassador

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For further media inquiries:

Christian Holz
cholz@climateactionnetwork.ca
+1.613.618.4601

Hannah McKinnon
hmckinnon@climateactionnetwork.ca
+1.613.276.7791

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We are now financially liable for climate damage.

Initial reaction to the Doha (COP-18) climate conference outcome focussed on the fact that no new commitments were made to stop the rise of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. But something dramatic and new did emerge: the recognition that CO2 polluters are financially liable for the damages they cause to other nations and peoples.

You can view the COP-18 decisions here: http://unfccc.int/2860.php#decisions . The relevant declaration is “Approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change to enhance adaptive capacity.”

Last year Peter Kent withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, claiming Canada would be fined for its behaviour if we didn't withdraw. Well, it seems we can run, but we can't hide. The Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change represents all United Nations members except South Sudan, Niue and the Cook Islands, and so its declarations form a basis of international law at some level.

Only time will reveal how this principle of law will be applied. The Doha text itself only enshrines the principle of responsibility for loss and damage, not agreement on the mechanism for determination. That discussion will come back next year.

We have some basis for hope here. But we should also be afraid: if the climate crisis spirals out of control, there will be punitive damages and trade measures brought against offenders. Canada has made itself a target for these. A greater fear arises if climate change displaces masses of humanity by floods, drought or hunger, that conflicts will escalate beyond mere trade wars. Some might see signs of this already happening.

Chris Aikman Vancouver Island North