FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WARSAW, Poland – Environment Minister Leona Agglukaq’s statement at her first UN climate conference today reiterated a federal commitment to offer nothing in the face of mounting pressure for climate leadership. While Aglukkaq indicated that “Canada is taking a leadership role,” the areas which she claimed to constitute that leadership did not offer anything new or inspirational and indeed fall well short of what Canada’s fair contribution would be.
“The federal government is actively holding back progress by playing a blocking role in areas that are crucial for progress toward a new climate deal in 2015,” said Christian Holz, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. “The most important of such areas are climate finance, loss and damage and mitigation ambition, and the federal government is missing in action on all three.”
Additional public financial commitments from developed countries such as Canada are seen as particularly important to a successful outcome in Warsaw. Talks have been characterized by mounting pressure for developed countries to acknowledge historical responsibility for climate change and help vulnerable countries cope with the enormous costs of climate inaction. Climate finance is seen as essential to fostering trust in the negotiations, and for the first time at the UN climate talks climate finance is the focus of a dedicated high-level ministerial discussion.
“The Warsaw talks are critical to showing how developed countries intend to scale up finance to the promised $100 bn per year in 2020,” said Holz. “Yet Canada is showing up empty-handed. The federal government is failing to put forward new climate finance at the same time that it is substantially scaling back its contribution to pre-Copenhagen levels. At the very minimum, at this conference developed countries must firmly commit to a short timeframe for placing money into the Green Climate Fund as promised four years ago in Copenhagen. Obviously, setting up a fund and then leaving it empty is not conducive for trust building.”
While the developed world has committed to providing climate finance of $100 billion per year by 2020, Canada has made no financial commitments for the period from 2013 to 2020. Aglukkaq’s statement also referred to “Canada’s largest ever contribution of $1.2bn in fast start financing.” However, this financing, promised in the context of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord has ended in 2012 and the federal government is refusing to continue contributing to the international climate finance need at similar levels. This refusal comes in the wake of disasters typified by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which is projected to cost the Philippines over $5 billion. Also this week, the World Bank estimated that loss and damage from climate change impacts has already amounted to $200 bn per year during the last decade. This is especially frustrating since Aglukkaq was sure to point to the “significant investments in domestic climate change adaptation” while the international Adaptation Fund that supports adaptation programs in poor countries urgently requires replenishment before the fund runs dry in 2014.
Canada’s inaction in this and other areas has resulted in its recent ranking as the worst climate performer in the developed world, according to a report by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe. “Canada has a massive credibility issue because of its failure to meet its Kyoto target, its pull-out of Kyoto and its failure to demonstrate sufficient progress toward its Copenhagen target. While eagerly talking about a laundry list of complementary climate activities, the specific contribution of these activities cannot be assessed. They also cannot distract from the fact that the Harper government has no chance of real climate action as long as it insists on aggressively pushing reckless expansion of oil extraction while ignoring renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Holz. “The sector-by-sector approach touted by the minister here in Warsaw as progress is too little too late.”
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For more information, contact:
Dr. Christian Holz, Executive Director
Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada
Toll Free: +1 855 CLIM NET (254 6638) ext. 24
Local phone in Warsaw: +48 795 665 642
About Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada:
Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada (CAN-Rac) is the Canadian node of Climate Action Network International. CAN-Rac is a national network comprised of over 90 member organizations from across the country, representing aboriginal, faith-based, labour and environmental NGOs. CAN-Rac is the only organization in the country with a mandate to promote the climate movement as a whole, rather than the interests and programs of any one organization.