Despite Peter Kent's "Kyoto is in the past" mentality, look what was approved in Durban: a second commitment period under Kyoto. Hardly "in the past." What's in the past? Canada's reputation as a country with any integrity.
During the last stretch of negotiations, delegates spotted the Canadian minister of environment in the main plenary room, shut out of key end-game negotiations. The sight of the minister in the plenary room, while high-level talks were occurring elsewhere, was striking in its symbolic accuracy.
"We have saved planet Earth for the future of our children and our great-grandchildren," South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane declared. More likely, all that she saved is face for China's renewable-energy industry and the EU carbon market, both in danger of freefall.
The historical culprits for causing climate change have gotten away with murder in Durban, abandoning their responsibility for this crisis and placing the burden upon the shoulders of the world. But this is not the time to mourn Durban. We must organize and create a just, sustainable future.
Few issues have united delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. But if you mentioned the name of "Canada," the response would be unanimous -- a collective groan and lament. Canada dug the grave for the Kyoto Protocol so the United States could put a bullet in its body.
As we enter Durban's final day, an agreement seems plausible on a second period under the legally-binding Kyoto deal -- without Canada. Other scenarios are equally plausible. Governments that take climate change seriously could choose to defer, or a dramatic final plenary could end in collapse.
Youth have the power to kick polluters out of the negotiations for our future, and to force leaders to change the game when it comes to climate progress, but we can't do it playing nice. We're trying to change that by taking on our own government.
Durban must move beyond demands for a drip-fed plan A. It must embrace an ambitious plan B rooted in communities' interests in having jobs, income and food on the table. With this in mind, new financing mechanisms must focus on mobilizing driving international co-operation.
Santa won't be delighted to hear that Canada plans to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol just before Christmas (the North Pole may soon be ice-free in the summer) but it's the real people who live on this continent and know the reality of climate change for whom the Canadian flag has been sullied.
Dr. Burton believes that although there are climate skeptics now, they will come around and the necessary change to reduce greenhouse emissions will happen -- likely in something like 50 years. The problem with this scenario is that many irreversible impacts of climate change will have already occurred.
A favourite coping mechanism is to think that this climate change thing is something distant. What happened in 2011, however, takes away that "something distant" excuse. Whether it was about Quebec's flooding in the spring, or warm winter weather, we've had record-breaking wacky weather from coast to coast all year.
Canada has decided to put polluters ahead of people. It is only nation to weaken its international commitments after the Copenhagen conference; this after it stood alone as the only nation to renounce its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
One of the most touching pieces of testimony at the UN Watch conference was a letter smuggled out of Iran's notorious Evin Prison. I have put this letter into the record of the Senate as a show of solidarity with the author, a brave ayatollah whose only crime was to advocate for the separation of religion and government.