Canada, not Copenhagen, hit by protests over climate policy

Jeremy Hance
December 08, 2009

While tens of thousands of protestors have gone to Copenhagen to call on world governments to do more to fight against climate change, the most surprising protest on the first day of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen occurred thousands of miles away: in Canada.

Greenpeace protestors dodged security and scaled two of Canada's Parliament buildings in Ottawa. They unfurled banners that read "Harper-Ignatieff: Climate Inaction Costs Lives" and "Stop the Tarsands" in French and English. Stephen Harper is the conservative Prime Minister of Canada and Michael Ignatieff is the Liberal Leader. Nineteen of the Greenpeace activists were later arrested peacefully.

In addition, a petition by Canadian environmental groups calling on the Harper administration to do more to combat climate change has been signed by more than 150,000 Canadian citizens.

Canada has come under increasing international criticism for dragging its heels on climate change and its continuing exploitation of tar sands for oil. The extraction of oil from the tar sands is energy intensive and leaves a carbon footprint that some say is the largest industrial source of carbon emissions in the world: 40 million tons of greenhouse gases every year.

At the same time, Canadian climate policy continues to trail behind most other nations. The country is the only one to drop out of the Kyoto treaty and due largely to the exploitation of the tar sands, its emissions have risen 26 percent since 1990 (10 percent more than the US who never signed onto Kyoto). Currently, Canada has pledged to reduce its emissions by 20 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels, saying that it will move lockstep with the United States on climate change.

During a recent meeting of Commonwealth, the head of the UN Ban-Ki-Moon singled Canada out for not doing enough. After the meeting, some called for Canada to be banned from the Commonwealth for its stance on climate change.

Polls consistently show most Canadians would like the government to do more on climate change.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (December 08, 2009).

Canada, not Copenhagen, hit by protests over climate policy.