"The Canadian Youth Delegation is at the negotiating table… but so is Suncor."- Highlights of Day 5 at COP21

Canadian Youth Delegation

Highlights of Day 5 at COP21

• The Canadian Youth Delegation is at the negotiating table… but so is Suncor.

• Check us out on The National from December 4th! (Skip to 14:17.)


“We will not give up our fundamental right to exist”

This powerful statement by the President of Tuvalu has been echoed by small island states and other countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis. The call to action by these countries is to keep the global temperature below a rise of 1.5° Celsius.


These countries have joined a group of over 43 states to support the right of all peoples to exist by signing the Climate Vulnerability Forum’s ‘Malila-Paris Declaration’ to prevent a rise in temperature beyond 1.5° Celsius by pledging to decarbonize by 2050. The leadership for this declaration came from the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries but since then, it’s been signed by dozens more countries including France and Germany. FYI Canada hasn’t pledged prevent a rise by more than 1.5° Celsius.

To show our support for the Climate Vulnerability Forum, youth delegates have been collecting pledges for a Survival Declaration, asking government negotiators to commit to “do what it takes to ensure the survival of all countries and peoples.” Our very own Matt Hammer was hard at work yesterday to get a clear answer from Canada, but so far our government has failed to sign this declaration.

We’re at the table... but so is Suncor

We told you earlier this week that the government invited four members of the CYD to join the official Canadian delegation to COP 21. However, it wasn’t until yesterday that the government actually invited us to a meeting with the rest of the delegation. We appreciated the chance to voice our opinion to the Canadian negotiators along with other members of the delegation like Elizabeth May.

But to our surprise, we learned that in addition to civil society and youth, the fossil fuel industry was also invited to the negotiating table. In fact, the official government delegation includes representative from Suncor and ATCO.

So basically, the companies profiting from the destruction of the planet have been identified as key stakeholders by the Canadian government.

The government finally heard us out

Clearly, Minister McKenna’s staff has been keeping up with all of the media coverage we’ve been getting. Even though the Minister’s back in Ottawa for the opening of Parliament, her staff invited the CYD for a meeting to hear our perspective on the negotiations.

The meeting didn’t get off to a great start. We started off by asserting the need for Canada to join the 50+ countries that had already committed to decarbonization by 2050 in order to stay within a 1.5° C rise. Instead of hearing us out, McKenna’s Chief of Staff started to question the validity of the term ‘decarbonization’ -- even though it’s the exact call to action put forward by the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It’s also the pledge that some of Canada’s closest allies such as France and Germany have already committed to.

He tried to ‘mansplain’ the climate crisis to us in a way that took the fossil fuel industry off the hook and called the basis of the climate justice movement into question.

Needless to say, we were not pleased but luckily, the rest of McKenna’s staff actually listened to us instead of defending the fossil fuel industry. They took notes as we called for the need to Canada to commit to ambitious targets such as decarbonization by 2050 regardless of the direction the negotiations might take.

They were also eager to hear our perspective on loss and damage. We demanded that Canada support ‘loss and damage’ as its own clause in the negotiating text and stand behind the creation of mechanisms by which the Global North could be held accountable for extreme climate events in the Global South.

We ended the conversation by setting up a process by which we could consistently bring the youth call for climate justice into the negotiations -- Minister McKenna’s staff agreed to hear our perspective everyday for the remainder of the negotiations.

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples are not up for negotiation

respectUNDRIP.jpgSome negotiators at COP21 are trying to pull the “rights of indigenous peoples” out of the operative (UN speak for binding) portion of the agreement. Despicable. We know. We joined dozens of Indigenous leaders in protest yesterday morning to demand for the legal recognition of the distinct collective rights of indigenous peoples in the COP21 text.

At our daily meeting with Canadian negotiators, the negotiators said “we doing everything we can” to keep the “rights of indigenous peoples” language in the binding portion of the text rather than the preamble. Good. But rights of indigenous peoples have been removed from the latest draft, so we really need Canada to keep it up.

stopfundingfossils1.pngCanada, Stop Funding Fossils

Not-at-all fun fact: Canada is currently spending 79 times more money on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry than it is giving to the Green Climate Fund to support adaptation and mitigation for most climate vulnerable countries. Canada really need to sort out its priorities.

But seriously. Our team joined other youth delegates from around the world to demand that our governments stop funding the industry fueling the climate crisis. Trudeau’s government has promised to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but has yet to provide a timeline. It’s on us to make sure he follows through, and fast.


Media Round-up

• CBC’s The National covers our action on Thursday, featuring interviews with Erica Violet Lee and Aleah Loney. The segment on COP21 begins at 14:17

• VUE weekly: “Youth want to be heard at COP21, not just seen.”

• The Real News: Fate of Canada's Tar Sands, Pipelines Depend on Trudeau's Commitments at COP21

• Desmog Canada: Torrance shares his thoughts on his home province’s climate plan. “B.C., Canada’s Carbon Tax Champion, Criticized for Lack of Climate Leadership at COP21 in Paris”

[End of post]