Rio + 20 blog

(12:00) The Environment minister's speech was a bit misleading (#understatementoftheyear). "We're going to attain our GES targets". First of all, their GES targets (17% reduction between 2005 and 2020) are much smaller than Kyoto's. And both the Environment and sustainable development commissionner and the National Rountable of the Environment and the Economy said they'd miss there targets (by a lot). The Environmental commisionner said that instead of a reduction of 17%...we'll probably see an increase by about 7%. Shame.  

(11:15 am) The Environment minister is about to speak. All I'm expecting is lots of hot air. This governement can 'boast' all it wants about sustainable developement, but its record speaks for itself: gutting environmental protection, muzzling scientists, dropping out of Kyoto, about to miss its own weak GHG targets, etc.

This government is moving toward treating Canadians as commodities rather than citizens. Where's the accountability? Where's the transparency? Are they going to start caring for what Canadians are saying eventually?

Their retrograde attitude towards the environment has been met with scorn from scientists, environmentalists, charitable organizations, social movements, the majority of Canadians...and now the rest of the planet. Great.

They are losing all international credibility, having refused to commit to anything substantive or meaningful.  No legislative framework or economic commitment to steer Canada's economy to greener more viable pastures. We'll have to wait 3 more years before we hear Canada's governement speak in good faith internationaly. 

More than ever, the NDP is shown to be a solid alternative to a short-sighted and obstinate conservative government. 

(7:30am) The Harper governemnt is once again attacking NGOs, this time in Rio. The Environment minister, Peter Kent, said NGOs are biased are are participating a a large scale disinformation campaign. Hmmm. he goes on to say: " There is the environment, but there is also our fragile economy". I say "Exactly!". That's why we have to marry environment and economy. We can stimulate our economy by investing in renewable energy and creating an innovation and technology boom linked to green jobs. A same investment in renewables (solar or wind) creates 2 to 3 times more jobs than the same investment in the oil and gas sector. We'll see what M. Kent has to say in a few hours, but I'm not expecting much... 

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Vendredi 22 juin 2012

(8 pm) Just met up with Raul Burbano from Common Frontiers in Toronto. His NGO looks into integrating economies in the Americas, free trade and its impacts on society and on human rights. Raul highlighted the fact that civil society is not sufficiently consulted for these major political decisions, namely free trade agreements. Furthermore, social and environmental considerations must be put to the forefront in free trade talks and agreements. Back home, the Harper governement is nto at all transparent in its talks with Europe or with Trans Pacific nations. It's difficult to have any accountability when there is no transparency!

(5:30pm) People are calling for the end of fossil fuel subsidies. That money should be earmarked for sustainable developement and renewal energy instead.  Back home, our conservateive governement gives over 1 billion dollars to some of the world's richest companies. Let's stop stoking the flames, and start investing in our country's future!

(5:00pm) Still at the People's Summit. Meeting up with youth and Canadian scientists. Canada is becoming the butt of many people's jokes, calling us the ostrich by putting our head in the sand while the world acts and reacts to the increasing urgency of climate change. Lisa Cyr, from the Association for the progress of communications says Canada's reputation is being tarnished by its governements inaction on the environment.

(3:30pm) On site at the People's summit. It's so lively and colourful!  There is music, artisans and tons of kids. Singers are calling for more solidarity at the Assembly. SO much creativity and conviviality!

(12:30 pm) Rally in Rio in favor of the civil society participation. There is tons of people shouting: "Let the people decide! We will not leave! We would like to speak! Food sovereignty! This is our space!"

(11:30 am) The economist and director of the Planeat Institute, Jeffrey Sachs, just gave a very inspiring speech on the fact that there hasn't been much progress since Agenda 21 was established in 1992. In his view, only youth can ensure that we win the battle to protect our planet. Luckily, there a re tons of youth in the NDP...many of whom will still be young in 2015 ;)

(10:51 am) In the Confernece for youth an Ambassador from South Korea stressed the fact that social housing and youth need to be included in any talks about fighting climate change. Unfortunately, thos words were not heeded at home: not a single youth representative in Canada's youth delegation. (8:30 am) Meeting up with some Canadian youth to talk about their vision for Canada and how they think we should act to protect their future. 

(7:30 am) The newly -elected French president, is calling for a UN agency specific to the environment. At least there's one G7 leader ready to take significant steps toward fighting climate change. Our Prime minister would rather eliminate and gut 30 years of environmental protection progress, and drop out of Kyoto.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

(5:25pm) The negociatinos continue in Rio. The Moroccan representative has asked for more follow up processes to make it easier to see what's down around the world and to implement things at home. This would help smaller nations. We also need more checks and balances to make sure larger nations follow through on their commitments.

Ireland's Environment minister calls for more political will and leadership (I hope Stephen Harper was listening), and that we shouldn't shy away from loftier goals. We also have to enable more women from rural areas to get involved.

India's minister of State for the Environment and Forests went further by saying: "We are running the risk of a catastrophy of global scale. The poor will unfortunately be the first to feel the impacts of climate change. "  

We need a green and democratic revolution!

(2:20 pm) Just had lunch with Somaaya, a young woman who works for NASA on climate change and cities. She talked about the meetings she had with the mayors from C-40 cities, a network of mega cities that are working together to fight climate change (http://www.c40cities.org/home)

(1:29 pm) Jean Charest and the Québec delegation just walked by me. I imagine that this week they'll talk about Québec's Sustainable development law which is unique in that it also includes social sustainability. Did you know that our leader, Thomas Mulcair, was the principle instigator of this law when he was Environment minister in Québec? 

(1:01 pm) Grey and humid in Rio. It must be Mother Nature echoing her displeasure with the weak commitments world leaders have agreed to last night. Among the main culprits, the Conservative governement: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/06/20/rio-canada-environment-summit.html 

(12:30 am) Finally heading towards the Summit.

(10:35 am) In 1992, during the first World summit on Rio, Severn Suzuki, David Suzuki's 12 years old daughter, delivered a memorable speech in which she tried to awake everyone's sense of urgency in protecting our planet's future. 20 years later, what has been accomplished? Not much unfortunately. More than ever, we need action and leadership.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRH03DzP1z0

(10:30 am) Another study that underlines the importance of acting now!

The most up to date version of the IUCN's Red List of threatened species™, published in the lead up to Rio+20, shows that for the 63 837 studied species, 19 817 risk extinction. 

http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/our_work/the_iucn_red_list/

(10:25 am) Just arrived in Rio. It's the first time (except in Durban) that Canada's official delegation has no representatives from the Opposition, youth leaders or NGOs. That's why I'd like to thank Equiterre for helping me get the credentials to participate. Check back here to read my Rio+20 blog!