Ottawa — Canada's leading environmental groups today called on Environment Minister Rona Ambrose to resign as chair of the United Nations climate change process now that the federal government has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol.
"It's hypocritical to chair a process that you don't want to be part of," said Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation. "We're asking Minister Ambrose to step down because the international climate change process needs — and deserves — someone who will champion the Kyoto Protocol."
The Harper government has said it won't live up to the Kyoto Protocol and dismantled Canada's climate change programs. Yet, Canada continues to chair the international climate change negotiations. New talks on future action under the UN climate change process, including a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, begin May 15 in Bonn, Germany. Ms. Ambrose will fly into Bonn to open the talks but is not expected to stick around for the discussions.
The Canadian Climate Action Network, which is an umbrella organization representing dozens Canadian environmental groups, held a press conference in Ottawa today to demand that Ms. Ambrose resign as chair of the international negotiations.
"The Harper government has made it clear that it disagrees with the international mandate of the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change by working together to meet targets and timelines," said John Bennett of the Climate Action Network. "The last thing the world needs is a chair that doesn't believe in the Kyoto negotiations it is facilitating."
Most developed countries are on track to meeting their Kyoto targets. Canada has repeatedly said it will replace the Kyoto Protocol with a "made-in-Canada" approach that includes a proposal for a new Clean Air Act. But so far nothing has been announced that will significantly clean the air or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the federal government has slashed key climate change programs.
"Climate change is an urgent global problem that requires real leadership," said Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute. "But our government is failing Canadians by reducing the federal effort on climate change and refusing to abide by Kyoto. Minister Ambrose should therefore not be chairing this global process."
"Other countries are taking responsibility and working hard to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and meet Kyoto," said Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace Canada. "The international community would be better served by replacing Ambrose as chair with a counterpart that actually supports Kyoto."
Dale Marshall, David Suzuki Foundation, 613-302-9913
Matthew Bramley, Pembina Institute, 819-210-6115
Stephen Guilbeault, Greenpeace Canada, 514-231-2650
John Bennett, Climate Action Network, 613-291-6888
Nashina Shariff, Toxics Watch Society, 403-998-9983
Lorne Johnson, World Wildlife Fund Canada, 613-852-1316