Friday, June 10, 2011

Canada upsets other countries at climate negotiations

Though news of Canada's selective emissions reporting drew little attention here at home, other countries took notice. From Post Media News:

OTTAWA — Foreign diplomats bombarded Canadian climate change negotiators with questions Thursday in Bonn, Germany, as they challenged the Harper government's transparency and policies to fight global warming.

In the wake of media coverage highlighting missing and conflicting information in an Environment Canada submission to the United Nations, officials from Australia, China, Lebanon, the United Kingdom and the Philippines questioned government policies regarding fossil fuel subsidies and the Alberta "tarsands," a lack of investment in clean energy and the scientific evidence used to determine its greenhouse gas emissions target...

Representatives from other countries pounced on Canada after Michael Keenan, an assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada, delivered a presentation suggesting that the government was showing "significant ambition" in its proposal to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions.

But his presentation appeared to generate more questions than answers.

"I was also struck that the colleague from Canada didn't refer to the tarsands issue or at least only once in passing," said Peter Betts, the lead European Union negotiator and a director at the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change, during the session. "This has been an issue featured much in the press, and I know there have been allegations from the press that the emissions from that sector have not been included in Canada's inventory (report submission to the UN)."

His remarks were followed by a delegate from Australia — traditionally a Canadian ally at climate negotiations — who questioned how Canada could increase its "level of ambition" when it was turning away from engaging international markets. Lebanon also jumped in, questioning the pace of a commitment to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, including the "tarsands," and raising doubts about Canada's intention to harmonize its policies with the U.S. without matching its partner's proportion of investments in clean energy.

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