Canadians Mark Earth Day by Participating in Historic Cochabamba Climate Conference

For Immediate Release

Council of Canadians
Contact: 

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685; dpenner@canadians.org
Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner, Council of Canadians, available in Cochabamba, Bolivia: (613) 218-5800; aharden@canadians.org
Kimia Ghomeshi, G20 and Climate Organizer, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, available in Cochabamba, Bolivia: (416) 294-1602; campaigns@ourclimate.ca
Amber Church, National Director, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, (867) 335-4884

Canadians Mark Earth Day by Participating in Historic Cochabamba Climate Conference

OTTAWA/COCHABAMBA - Two prominent Canadian organizations will be joining social movements, non-governmental organizations, intellectuals, Indigenous Peoples from around the world and representatives of more than 70 governments, including France, Russia, and Spain, at the Bolivian government's Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth, April 20-22. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition have delegates on the ground in Cochabamba hosting workshops, participating in official working groups and a plenary panel. In Canada, youth are hosting climate justice teach-in actions across the country.

"The youth movement for climate justice has taken off in Canada," says Kimia Ghomeshi, G20 and Climate Organizer with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition that is also mobilizing in Toronto this coming June. "Young people will not stand by while Indigenous rights continue to be disrespected, while millions at home and around the world are being disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and while our own futures are not being safeguarded."

In celebration of Earth Day and in solidarity with participants of the Cochabamba conference, teach-ins and actions for climate justice are being held throughout the week in various communities including Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Peterborough, and Halifax. Events will include presentations on the Cochabamba conference and a short video featuring Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, reporting from the Cochabamba conference.

"This is a historic conference. It is bringing together representatives from the majority of Least Developed Countries that are most vulnerable to climate change with representatives from civil society; both were marginalized at the Copenhagen negotiations which saw a handful of global North countries control the dialogue," says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. "This conference represents a growing collaboration to advance alternative proposals based on climate justice."

Conference aims include discussing a global referendum on climate change, a ‘rights-based' approach to the climate crisis and agreeing on new commitments to be negotiated within the United Nations process.

The Bolivian government announced the conference on the coat-tails of the Copenhagen Accord, a product of backroom negotiations between a handful of countries that fails to deliver effective international action. Bolivia is already experiencing the effects of climate change with melting glaciers and water shortage threats in mountainous regions.

The Council of Canadians sent Prime Minister Stephen Harper an open letter requesting a public response on whether the Canadian government plans to send a high-level delegation to this historic climate conference, but to date no response has been received. "It is a shame that our government isn't in Cochabamba to hear the firsthand accounts of what will happen if global North countries fail to move beyond the weak targets under the Copenhagen Accord," says Maude Barlow, who was formally invited by the Bolivian government to the conference as a main plenary panelist.

The Council of Canadians will host a phone-in press conference from Cochabamba on April 22, 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time, shortly after the closing dialogue between peoples and government, at which Maude Barlow, Andrea Harden-Donahue and Kimia Ghomeshi, will report on the outcomes of the conference.

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