Canada Wins Fossil of the Year Award in Durban

Canadians in Durban hold moment of silence for the fifth Colossal Fossil in a row

For Immediate Release

(Durban, South Africa) Today, Canada was awarded the dubious honour of Fossil of the Year for the fifth year running at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. Canadians in Durban were on hand to accept the award, and to pass it on to the next worst offender in recognition that Canada’s actions have become so egregious that they have been left behind on the sidelines of global climate progress.

“The Canadian Government’s inaction has led to it being constantly singled out as a laggard and even a pariah in these negotiations,” said Chris Bisson of the Canadian Youth Delegation, “They’ve made our country irrelevant to the United Nations’ efforts to combat climate change”

The decision to pass on the fossil to the United States comes as civil society groups have found internal Canadian government documents note that with the “ever increasing aggressiveness” of environmental campaigns in 2010, “getting daily ‘Fossil Awards’ on the margins [of the] Conference may be the least of our concerns.” Documents date from just before the last climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.

The fossil was accepted by two Inuit youth, Jordan Konek and Curtis Kuunuaq Konek and followed by a moment of silence for Canada.

The text as presented read:

The Canadian government has made headlines and earned criticism from the international community in Durban for refusing to sign onto a second Kyoto commitment period, calling critical climate financing “guilt payments,” and bullying least developed countries into leaving the Kyoto Protocol. And over the two week negotiation period, Canada has won a staggering total of 6 Fossil of the Day awards. Mathematically, they are the undisputed winner of the 2011 Colossal Fossil award.

But when environment minister Peter Kent announced Canada’s third fossil of COP 17 on the floor of the House of Commons, members of his Conservative government cheered and applauded. The minister brought that reckless arrogance with him to Durban, where he’s maintained a hard line and refused to budge on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and fought hard to put polluters before people.

Canada remains the only country in the world to have weakened its emissions targets after returning from COP 15 in Copenhagen and the only country to have signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol and then say that it has no intention of meeting its targets. The Government killed the only major federal renewable energy program in the country while plowing over $1 Billion dollars a year of subsidies into the oil sector.

The Government’s lack of ambition or action to combat climate change is no laughing matter. Climate Change is one of the most serious issues that humanity has ever faced, and it is already affecting millions of people – including vulnerable communities in Canada.

While a colossal fossil might be a fitting reward for such egregious behaviour, we’d prefer to confer that title on a country whose actions are still having an effect on the negotiations taking place, and not a laggard who’s been pushed to the sidelines of this debate. Until Canada is prepared to become a real leader on climate change, it’s time to turn our backs on the government’s policies and move on with a coalition of the willing built from people, cities and provinces that understand the urgent need for action.

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Hannah McKinnon
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