28 November 2011 (Ottawa) — At dawn on the opening day of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, Greenpeace took to Parliament Hill to brand the Harper government a “climate fail” of epic proportions. Activists used hundreds of LED emergency lights to spell “climate fail” across the Parliament lawn in huge, illuminated letters to send Prime Minister Harper the message that he must listen to people, not polluters. It is time for Canada to become part of the solution to the climate crisis.
“The Harper government continues to fail Canadians and the world on the most urgent issue of our time,” said Christy Ferguson, Greenpeace climate and energy unit head. “We need to turn away from the tar sands and make Canada a win on climate change.”
Canada has failed to meet its Kyoto commitments and opposes an extension of the agreement. At its current rate, Canada will also fail to meet the weakened greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Harper government in 2009 – targets which, even if achieved, would be inadequate to address the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. The scientific community has said much deeper cuts by industrialized nations are necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.
These actions and others have spurred recent criticisms from the global community. Canada is characterized as a disruptive force in international climate negotiations, one that does not do its part and tries to block progress by other nations in securing an effective, global pact to address climate change.
“We need a fair, effective global pact to stop climate change and we need it now,” says Ferguson. “The Global Humanitarian Forum warns that in the last year alone, 300,000 people have died as a result of climate change. There’s no time left for bullying and stall tactics,” adds Ferguson.
On November 23rd, Greenpeace released a report titled “Who’s Holding Us Back,” detailing how the Harper government’s collusion with tar sands companies like Shell and industry associations like the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is contributing to Canada’s lack of climate action at home and attempts to derail progress abroad.
This is the second time Greenpeace has taken to Parliament Hill for the opening day of a UN climate conference. The group also did so in 2009, on the opening day of the pivotal UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. On that day, Greenpeace occupied the roofs of the Parliament Buildings and hung a banner that read: “Harper/Ignatieff: Climate Inaction Costs Lives” to highlight Prime Minister Harper and former opposition leader Michael Ignatieff's failures to help end the growing loss of human life from the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Further expansion of the tar sands, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, will lock Canada into a high-carbon economy for decades to come. “Canada needs to stop adding dirty fuel the fire of climate change and embrace the clean energy revolution,” says Greenpeace climate and energy coordinator, Keith Stewart. “It’s time to draw the line at the tar sands.”