Cdn Youth Delegation: 1.5 is the New Standard

11 12 2015

Highlights from Wednesday, December 9 – COP21 in Paris:

• There’s a new draft for the agreement!
• Now that Canada has committed to 1.5C, we celebrate the retirement of fossil fuels!
• Canada is back… on the Fossil of the Day stage
• Have you signed our petition yet?

There’s a new draft of the agreement!

Yesterday, the wifi at Le Bourget nearly kicked it when the draft text was released and everyone swarmed around computers to read it. The consensus in our circles is unfortunately not great. This new text saves appearances but not the earth. Still open to negotiators is the choice between aiming for warming “below 2C”, “well below 2C” or “below 1.5C”. The implications of this are enormous, particularly for low-lying island nations and communities at home and around the world already feeling the effects of a warming planet.

Additionally, we have seen the removal of vital language around human rights from the text.  This includes “the rights of indigenous peoples, migrants, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and under occupation”.  While this language appears in the preamble, it was completely removed from Article 2, meaning it’s no longer legally binding.

Many of us came to Paris demanding a just, ambitious text.  A text that reflects the needs of those most vulnerable people to the impacts of climate change.  A text that is legally binding, that places the onus on affluent countries to contribute their fair share to climate finance, and a text that allows for ambition to increase over time, at the pace we need it, and not allowing anyone to backslide.  As it stands, there is still potential for the agreement to go either way, and these last 48 hours will be a mad dash from climate justice organizers on the inside to push towards a better outcome.

We hound our premiers (Maritimes Edition)laurenfracking.jpg

Bright and early, we made our way to Le Bourget to confront Brian Gallant, the Premier of New Brunswick. Lauren delivered a package to him on behalf of the Peoples’ Lawsuit Youth of Elsipogtog, a First Nations community who demand a 25 year moratorium on fracking within the province. Leader of the Liberal Government in New Brunswick, Premier Gallant was elected with the understanding that a moratorium would be placed upon fracking in the province.  The honesty of this promise and longevity of the moratorium have since come into question, especially when one considers the Government’s recent move to fire Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eilish Cleary, who was researching Glyphosate levels in New Brunswick’s water at the time of her termination, and was expected to publish a report calling for a further extension of the moratorium in question. You can read more of that story here

We were so honoured to have been able to carry that message, and make Gallant squirm a little.

We celebrate the retirement of the fossil fuel industry!

This week, Canada came out in support of a 1.5C target, so we took a moment to have a cheeky celebration! The government’s standing 2C commitment and a promise to implement free, prior and informed First Nations consent is already a death knell for tar sands expansion projects like TransCanada’s Energy East or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline. A further commitment to 1.5C and ambition means reviewing INDCs pre-2020 to ensure we are on the path to 1.5C, which gives us hope for the justice-based transition we need to begin immediately.

So, in honor of 1.5C, we hosted a retirement party for the fossil fuel industry and it’s long, dirty history. Torrance gave a gracious send off toast: “We won’t leave fossil fuels out in the cold. There’s a special place they can stay forever… in the ground!”

Diane also said some words of farewell: “In Canada, fossil fuels was actually our boss for a long time – but we’re seeing some exciting new leadership coming forward. Wind power and solar energy, who have some awesome credentials – respecting Indigenous rights and the land, building green economies, and keeping our air and water clean.”

Trudeau and McKenna may not be admitting yet what a 1.5C commitment really means, but our movement is ready to lead the way and show them. It means a zero emissions, fossil free economy by 2050, and we’re going to hold them to it.

P.S. Jane Goodall dropped by our action and it took all we had to keep going and not swarm her for autographs. Tears were shed.

Webinar with Alberta Youth

Taking It Global hosted a webinar taking questions from youth across the world with Matt and Nimra from Alberta as speakers on the panel, reporting from COP21 grounds. Alberta youth presented key messages from a white paper with contributions from youth from across the province to CYD :IMG_7622.JPG

• The need to increase climate change education

• Alberta needing to lead by example by phasing out fossil fuels immediately

• Alberta doing their part to keep warming below 2C

• Canada providing compensation and assistance to vulnerable countries as much as possible

Massive sit-in for Climate Justicesitintweet.png

Civil society organizations staged a 500+ person sit-in right outside the main negotiating room.  Activists, policy wonks, scientists and youth joined forces, touting signs calling for rich countries to pay their fair share and to install an enforceable 1.5C target. Mic checks and chants were led by activists from communities on the front lines of climate change from around the world.

Gabriel, Atiya, Torrance, Bronwen and Ben all participated, saying it was one of the more powerful moments they’ve had at the negotiations thus far. For a short time, the balance of voices in COP21 felt fair, with the messages of those most affected reverberating through these halls of power.

An especially striking moment was when Yeb Sano, the Philippines negotiator turned activist famous for speaking the bold truths that others ignore addressed the crowd saying how the real power didn’t come from the negotiating space but the movement holding them accountable outside.

Canada is Back… on stage for the Fossil of the Day Awards

We wrote a little bit yesterday about how Canada has been a behind-the-scenes bully alongside the rest of the wealthy countries known as the ‘Umbrella Group’, and this behaviour continued today. The group acts as a negotiating bloc and they have been pushing to have a clause in the agreement that would prevent the most vulnerable countries from receiving compensation for climate damages that can’t be prevented or adapted to, FOREVER. The words *in perpetuity* were actually being thrown around, so this is some next-level villain stuff.dianefossil.jpg

Luckily the fine folks at Climate Action Network International agree with us, and Canada received a second place ‘Fossil of the Day’ award along with New Zealand and the U.S for their attempt to forever shirk responsibility for the climate damages they’ve caused. Diane Connors of the CYD went up on stage to accept the award on behalf of Canada as part of a very colourful ceremony.

This bad behaviour is a prime example of Canada’s Jekyll/Hyde behaviour at COP21 this year. They publicly go to bat for including human rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples in the text, but in closed sessions they have advocated for things like this compensation clause and the removal of the rights of occupied peoples. Some argue this is just an unavoidable part of the wheeling and dealing of negotiations. But if our parents taught us anything, doing something because others are too, definitely doesn’t make it OK.

MacleansCBC and other mainstream Canadian media have been quick to jump on the story because it conflicts with their ongoing “Canada is Back” narrative. Word on the street here at COP21 is that McKenna and her team are very freaked out about the hole it has poked in their image. We’re hoping the pressure will incite them to clean up their act.

CYD in the Media

• Desmog Canada, McKenna under fire for Energy East questions at Paris briefing.

• Alternatives Journal, Everything is at stake for Canada’s youth

• Mashable, Why Canada is not yet ‘back’ when it comes to climate change policies

• Station 14 Kingston, Trudeau disappoints Canadian Youth Delegation

– The Canadian Youth Delegation

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