Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is there Public Support for Canada's Position in Cancun?

Cancun, Mexico) - Although there is probably some support in Canada for our government’s position, it is absent here in Cancun except from some of the government representatives. Over the past 11 Days I have talked to many Canadians, all non-government representatives expressed disagreement and disappointment with the government’s position. People from other countries are surprised that this government survives considering the unpopularity of this position.

On Thursday Dec. 9 we attended a news conference put on by the Climate Action Network. Representatives from four of our federal political parties, the Assembly of First Nations and four NGO’s, spoke out against the Conservatives position at this conference. The following statements are from their websites:

Opposition parties are sending a clear message today. The attitude of the Canadian government here in Cancun is putting the architecture of the Kyoto Protocol at risk."– Bernard Bigras, Environment Critic, Bloc Quebecois MP

President Calderon has inspired enthusiasm for a strengthened and substantive Cancun agreement. Canada must stand with its North American partner and commit to binding greenhouse gas reductions in an extended Kyoto agreement and expedite the needed regulatory and fiscal measures.”– Linda Duncan, Environment Critic, New Democratic Party MP

For the last fifteen years, I’ve been a witness of the extraordinary leadership that our country had shown on many occasions, both under Conservative and Liberal governments. Now, I only witness the destructive role that Canada is playing by opposing to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. Today, we are at a crossroads. Canada can try to kill the only existing international treaty we have to face the most important challenge humanity as ever faced. Or, Canada can show leadership and act to protect the climate." – Steven Guilbeault, Deputy Director, Équiterre

Hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers are calling on the Harper government to hold onto Kyoto as THE legitimate foundation on which tobuild a fair, equitable and binding agreement."– Karen Hawley, National Representative for the NUPGE, the National Union of Public and General Employees.

The Kyoto process must be continued, ambitious targets have to be set and we have to lead, not follow — not the U.S. or any other country — in protecting our citizens and solving the practical world-wide challenge of climate change. Canada can and must do better.”– Gerard Kennedy, Environment Critic, Liberal Party MP

The position of the Canadian government does not represent the will of provinces, Parliament, or Canadians, and especially not of our generation. By obstructing the Kyoto process and failing to take ambitious action domestically, Canada is acting directly against the interests of all young Canadians.”– Maggie Knight, member of the Canadian Youth Delegation to COP16

Canada once was respected for international leadership. In 1988, we hosted the first global scientific climate conference. In 1992, we were the first industrialized country to ratify the framework convention. Action by Canada helped save the Kyoto Protocol when the Bush Administration tried to kill it. And in 2005, Canada's hosting of COP11 helped the world find the path to these negotiations. Tragically, since 2006, Canada has been laying roadside bombs on the road to a continued agreement. We have lost credibility and respect around the world.”– Elizabeth May, Leader, Federal Green Party of Canada, O.C.

Canada can do better in the areas mitigation and adaptation, both domestically and internationally. One only needs to look at the situation in northern areas of Canada to see negative impacts of climate change. We really need to work collectively in Canada to develop innovative programs to put our own house in order before making demands on developing nations. Only then can Canada work internationally to curb further releases of greenhouse gasses.”– Regional Chief Eric Morris, Assembly of First Nations

It's time for the federal government to get its head out of the sand and realize that it's offside with the country it claims to represent. Climate change is a non-partisan issue whose impacts are already being felt by people around the world. We've come together today to call for an end to this government's reckless, do-nothing approach.”– Graham Saul, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada

These statements from people that can speak for a majority of Canadians clearly show that our government is only representing the choice of a minority. Is this issue serious enough in the minds of Canadians to justify an election? Since how we deal with climate change is critical to the future of Canada and the entire world, it should be. If many more Canadians had the privilege that I have had here in Cancun, this government would not survive long. The vast amount of good science that has been presented here would convince most skeptics with an open mind. The question is how do we effectively communicate the seriousness and urgency of this issue?

With the conference now over, we need to digest the results to see what has really been achieved. The progress on dealing with deforestation and the climate change fund are cause for hope. A commitment to the second period for The Kyoto Protocol was not achieved. The protocol is still alive but on life support. That emissions have to be reduced is widely accepted but determining the reductions that each country will commit to is a long way off. In the comings weeks, the amount of real progress made in Cancun will become more clear.

Fred TwilleyNominated Green Party of Canada Candidate,Sudbury Riding

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Importance of Preserving the Kyoto Protocol

Cancun, Mexico - Today at the United Nations COP-16 climate change summit, we listened to many leaders and important ministers from many countries who are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. All emphasized the urgency to take action sooner rather than later since delays only make the challenges greater. Leaders from countries at most risk to climate change such as small island states or countries with low lying costal areas, spoke passionately about the continued existence of their nations if the world does not act strongly enough and soon enough.

The President of Georgia stated that the time to debate whether to take action is over; it is time to debate on how action is taken. The Kyoto Protocol is viewed as the best hope of ensuring progress despite its many flaws.

Many nations are taking unilateral action. Georgia is establishing an investment friendly environment for the green economy. 80% of new electrical energy will be renewable, even though Georgia currently produces a lot of fossil fuels. Georgia has made strong forest management commitments, and has begun undertaking the conversion of public vehicles to bi-electric.

The President of Ecuador talked about how many of the world’s poorest countries are the custodians of large amounts of sequestered carbon, mainly in the form of forests. Harvesting could dramatically help their economies, but opportunities to enhance sequestration could be of even greater benefit. Ecuador has forests that could provide income for many people and the government. It has large areas suitable for reforestation. It also has untapped oil reserves. Compensation for net avoided emissions and new carbon sinks are urgent, in Ecuador’s opinion. Ecuador’s constitution recognizes the rights of nature.

“We are accountable to nature, our children and millions of climate refugees,” said the President of Ecuador. He also spoke about intellectual property rights, and about how privatizing knowledge was wrong.

The Prime Minister of Samoa talked about how climate change does not need an agreement to cause destruction and we need to be motivated by both science and our conscious to act. Samoa has committed to be carbon neutral by 2020.

The Kingdom of Bhutan has committed to reduce deforestation to zero in five years and to reforest millions of hectares.

Norway has committed large sums of money to reduce emissions. They want carbon pricing as an incentive to reduce emissions and provide funds for climate change. The Prime Minister of Norway stated that deforestation is the cause of half of all global emissions of CO2, and as a result, Norway has pledged $4 billion to reduce deforestation.

Two leaders stated that very little of the $30 billion pledged in the Copenhagen Accord have been delivered. What is needed for success is a legally binding agreement like the Kyoto Protocol and it must be continued.

Canada’s position on all of the above is not completely clear.

On Reducting GHG Emissions, Canada Must Lead by Example

Ambassador Guy St. Jacques is Canada’s chief negotiator. Once a day, he meets with Canadian participants and observers to up date us on the progress of negotiations. After a short talk he answers questions. Most of the questions show that those asking them are in strong disagreement with Canada’s position. The answers Guy supplies are skillfully crafted and rarely satisfy the questioner. We in the room recognize that he must support the party line. At one point he said “My marching orders are 17%”.

Many of the side events that I have attended show that the evidence is getting stronger and that climate change is occurring faster. I was blown away by how serious the problem is in the oceans. Studies of the effects of climate change on the oceans have accelerated recently; only one major report came out in 2007. The chemistry and the mechanisms of the oceans are apparently better understood than for the atmosphere. It has been over 55,000,000 years since the oceans have been his acidic. A mass extinction before the end of the century is a real possibility.

My questions to St. Jacques have focused around this changing reality of climate change and how Canada could be a more effective negotiator if we lead by example, assuming that we believe that real action is necessary and urgent. In the light of this evidence, is it not better for Canada to take unilateral action and lead by example instead holding back until others get onboard? Canada only contributes 2% of the emissions so withholding action is a very weak threat. However, since we are less than one half of 1% of the world’s population, we are polluting at over 4 times the average per person. We need to have stronger targets than the world average.

In response to my questions the ambassador has repeatedly referred to “carbon leakage” as a reason for not taking unilateral action. When business moves to other countries to avoid high penalties for carbon emissions it is called carbon leakage. However, carbon leakage only occurs when the “stick” approach is used. That would not happen if carbon emissions were discouraged through tax shifting or incentives. In Canada we have experienced businesses leaving the country to take advantage of incentives from other enlightened governments. We could call this “carrot leakage”.

By insisting that large developing countries commit to more cuts to their emissions before Canada commits to reductions is in effect asking them to impede their progress in bringing their poor out of poverty while we Canadians continue to enjoy our comfortable lifestyle and wasteful ways. In order to reduce carbon emissions far enough and soon enough to have some hope of preventing climate catastrophe all countries will need to drastically cut carbon emissions. By leading by example Canada would have a much better chance of helping achieve some agreement at this conference.

Fred TwilleyNominated Green Party of Canada Candidate,Sudbury Riding

Monday, December 6, 2010

Observations From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (from Cancun, Mexico)

This COP-16 conference is a massive international undertaking. It involves thousands of people from all over the world. The daily program guidebook is over 30 pages long. It's my privilege and honour to attend this conference as an official observer.

As an observer, I am only exposed to a small part of what is going on. Many meetings are closed, and accessible only to participants, who are called “Parties”. Observers are referred to as “Non-Governmental”. Media personnel have a different status.

Most of the UN meetings occur at the Moon Palace in the lobby building, with meetings occurring in many of the guest rooms and in a large building about 100 metres away. In addition to the numerous meetings of the UN there are many side events at a separate set of buildings located about 5 kilometres away; these buildings are like two large warehouses. There are also a number of outside events at other hotels.

I have enjoyed conversations with members of all three groups (Parties; Non-Governmental; Media), and with people from all over the world. Some of the people I've met are from small countries that I have never heard of, which include small island nations such as the Seychelles. People from this small nation are afraid that their economy and livelihoods will be totally destroyed by climate change. Other small island nations are considering giving up trying to mitigate climate change, and abandoning their homeland to resettle elsewhere. The many people from other counties that I have had extensive conversations with, express pleasure that many Canadians do not share the same view as our Government. Many are pleased that the Green Party is an active force in Canada.

There has been little time to sit a computer and share my thoughts with you, between attending meetings, busing between venues, and walking between buildings, as well as eating and sleeping (which I've not had very much to do either). I started writing this blog on a public computer. I just left a meeting which would have driven you crazy. I have never seen such paralysis. I have much more to share with my friends and family back in Sudbury, and throughout Canada, and I will endeavour to provide you with updates as soon as I can.

Fred TwilleyNominated Green Party of Canada Candidate,Sudbury Riding

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The United Nations Conference on Climate Change is happening in Cancun, from November 29 to December 10. There seems to be little hope in the global community that any real progress will be achieved in agreements to fight climate change at this conference. However, the number and severity of extreme and record breaking weather events all over the world this past year, makes real progress much more urgent. There seams to be a belief that fighting global warming will risk our economic recovery. Yet all over the world, especially this year, severe economic costs have resulted due to the environmental disasters due to weather. In addition if we place any significant value on the accompanying human suffering then surly it costs us more to continue on our present course.

I am not saying that if we start tomorrow to reduce greenhouse gases that these catastrophic weather events will stop. It will take decades for changes made today to significantly affect the climate. In fact even more extreme weather events can be expected in the near future. This only strengthens the need to make changes now.
As more and more countries are investing in the green economy, their industries are becoming more efficient and better able to compete in the global economy. Countries that do not change will have to play catch-up and their economies will suffer. Many changes that we can make that have already been tested and proven in other countries, will help both our economy and the environment.

If Canada continues to resist real action on climate it will become isolated in the global community. We can expect significant criticism and possibly boycotts of our exports due to their carbon footprint. This type of economic sanctions are happening now for products that involve child labor, unfair trade practices, and perceived animal cruelty. As the consequences of climate change become more severe the likely hood of this kind of economic sanction will increase especially if economies in other countries fail to recover.

I have the good fortune to be able to attend this conference as an observer. By talking with as many other observers as possible I hope to learn a lot and demonstrate to them that many Canadians are well aware of environmental problems and are working hard to do their part to correct them. Although I have talked to as many people as opportunity has allowed in forming my opinions, I would like to here more from others. If you have any ideas that you would like to share please join me at our open house on Nov. 16, 6:30pm at 176 Larch in the Rethink Green Sudbury meeting room #101. Notes will be taken and I will bring these with me to show that Canadians are engaged in finding solutions. If you cannot attend and would like to share your thoughts send me an e-mail at twilleygreen@persona.ca and I will bring your e-mails with me.

Fred Twilley
Nominated Green Party of Canada Candidate,
Sudbury Riding

Sunday, February 7, 2010


The trend internationally to reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) is through the Cap and Trade approach. Before this method can take effect, the amount of GHG’s that every enterprise will be allowed to emit will have to be determined. This will require enormous amounts money, people, and time. Inevitably there will be a lot of dispute as to these assessments, which will lead to more money, people and time before this system can be implemented. This system also requires the setting up of a trading system to market GHG credits earned by some enterprises to be sold to others. This structure has the potential to make a great deal of money for the corporate elite in management fees and commissions and require a lot of other expenses to operate. Also this system will discourage new businesses from starting or other companies from expanding. In addition to the normal expenses of starting or expanding, carbon credits will have to be purchased.

The enormous costs of this approach to protecting our environment will not in any way directly reduce GHG’s. . It will have the desired effect of reducing carbon emissions, but at a hefty price to all of us because all of these costs will have to be recovered with price increases of fossil fuels etc. In addition, this method requires a lot of monitoring, hence more costs. Experience in Europe has found that this method has also provided a large opportunity for fraud with billions stolen from the system.

So what is the alternative? Direct carbon pricing through taxes in conjunction with tax reductions on the income side is the answer. This will encourage reducing of GHG’s because of increased costs at the same time as providing some tax relief to either help pay for the increased costs and stimulate investments in energy efficiency. Such investments would themselves create jobs. The tax relief on wages would in effect reduce the cost of labor and with corporate income tax reductions our industries would be more competitive thus saving jobs. The shifting of costs from labor to machinery could save jobs by reducing the incentive to mechanize to replace employees. Tax shifting is not a cure all, but a good first step. Many are concerned that the tax relief will be a lot less than the tax increases on carbon emissions, but with Cap and Trade there is zero relief. Secondly, taxes collected by our government are still our money, generally used for the benefit of citizens. Taxes are often not well spent, but that is a separate issue.

Some method of compelling us to reduce our carbon footprint is inevitable and with every change there are winners and losers. We have a choice. With Cap and Trade the corporate sector will be the winners and the rest of us the losers. With taxing of pollution and tax relief on income, some of us will win and some of us will loose but much less than with Cap and Trade. I am not against businesses making money, but there are many ways to make money providing goods and services that are of value to us. Also, Cap and Trade will hurt the bottom line of all businesses possibly stifling the recovery. With tax shifting and the increased investment in the green economy that it will encourage, our economy will be strengthened.

Fred Twilley


I would like to thank the organizers of this rally for the opportunity to speak. It is encouraging to see how many people have come out to support this protest. This is an important activity in a democracy for citizens to speak to government between elections. Recent poles suggest many Canadians are as upset by prorogation as we are.

The government needs to know that the disapproval of prorogation comes from a broad representation of the Canadian public and political parties. The reasons that we are here today is that prorogation is wrong for Canada at this time and it is in effect contempt of Parliament We must set aside what we believe are the motives for this political tactic and focus on why it is bad for all Canadians. It is the act of prorogation more than the reasons behind it that is doing the harm. This move delays action on many issues critical to Canadians including the economy, the environment, justice, and how we behave internationally i.e. the detainee issue. We must move expediently on economic, environmental and justice issues. We have to address the detainee issue, acknowledge our mistakes and take measures to prevent reoccurrences and hopefully regain the respect of the world community.

As the world’s economies continue to expand and as populations continue to grow, it is becoming clearer that we are reaching the capacity of the planet. Many believe that we are already exceeding the planets ability to absorb the impact of mankind. Consequently the urgency for the world’s governments to act carefully but with expedience is increasing. Prorogation will only delay action. Each and every one of us must be vigilante and speak out as forcefully as we can when things are so clearly wrong, as we are doing today in this rally.

Today must be a beginning for this cause. We all must keep this protest alive in the public’s awareness. All us must make this part of our daily communication, in letters to editors, in e-mails to members of parliament, etc.. We must remember this at the next election. Thank you all for your participation.

Fred Twilley