Joanna Dafoe

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Let's Get to Work, Canada

Over in Bonn, DeSmogger Joanna Dafoe is tracking the Canadian Government Delegation at the first climate meeting since Copenhagen. On the agenda: Climate financing and the new spirit of Canadian leadership.

Canada’s hot ticket to winning this weekend is through ambitious climate finance.  Any decision will follow straight from the Copenhagen fast-track climate financing commitment of $30 billion dollars for mitigation and adaptation programs in developing countries.

Canada has not yet announced how much it will contribute to this funding. In a report published by the Pembina Institute, Canada’s fair share would be 3 to 4%, roughly $300 to $400 million dollars per year by the year 2010, presumably in new spending - not in existing development assistance repackaged to fit the letter, but not the spirit, of the climate finance commitment.

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 negotiations: it is the idea that wealthy countries have a greater capacity than poor countries to finance climate solutions. Minister Prentice’s reference to the equity principle - which is central to the negotiations and to any tenable agreement - gives reason to hope that Canada has the will to do it’s fair share.

Keep Up the Pressure!

Did Fairness Lead Us Here?

One more day remains for negotiations at COP15 and the likelihood of breakthrough is now small.  The “fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty” many hoped for will most likely end up as a fragmented and ambiguous outcome.  I am left wondering about the political rationale that brought us here.

Civil society frozen in Copenhagen

In 1992, the United Nations formally recognized civil society as valuable actors in environmental decision making.

Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration states that “environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens.”  It is a surprise, then, that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat announced that civil society participation will be greatly limited at the COP15.  The UNFCCC Secretariat reports that this decision is due to over-capacity at the Bella Conference centre. 

According to a memo sent out by the observer organization liaison, the 22,000 registered observers were limited to 7000 today, on Thursday this numbers will be further limited to 1000, and on Friday only 90 observers will be permitted access to the negotiations.

In response to the limit on participation, a collective of environmental organizations issued a statement charging the process as undemocratic.

It is true that the details of complex negotiations often pan out behind closed doors; but it is also instructive to ask how the negotiations might change with the lowered numbers of civil society.