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Harper Will Be a No-Show for UN Climate Summit Next Week

Brent Patterson

 by Council of Canadians

The New York Times editorial board has commented, "The Paris [climate summit in December 2015] may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control."

Bill McKibben has stated, "In order to spur those talks along, [UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] invited the world's leaders to New York in late September for a climate summit. ...At the moment, the overwhelming sense around the world is nothing will happen in time. That's on the verge of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy... A loud movement – one that gives our 'leaders' permission to actually lead, and then scares them into doing so – is the only hope of upending that prophecy."

That is why the Council of Canadians will be joining about 100,000 people in New York City for the People's Climate March this weekend.

US president Barack Obama will be in New York for the climate summit on September 23. So will British prime minister David Cameron, French president Francois Hollande and about 125 other national leaders. But Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper will not be going. He will send his environment minister instead.

Notably, he will be at the United Nations just a couple days later to deliver a speech to the UN General Assembly. In terms of his recent public statements, we can expect that he won't focus on climate change, but rather highlight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the situation between Russia and Ukraine, and support for Israel. He will also participate in an event on maternal and child health.

While Harper will skip the climate summit, the Ottawa Citizen reports, "Harper will take part in a dinner with the secretary-general to discuss climate issues, said [the prime minister's spokesperson Jason] MacDonald." This is simply not good enough.

Council of Canadians energy and climate campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue, who will be in New York City for the march, has written, "Our federal government has transformed Canada into a climate criminal. Canada has the worst climate policy of all so-called developed countries – including no plans to curb emissions from the oil and gas sector, despite promising this for years."

She adds, "We can have a livable world or tar sands expansion, not both. It is a key reason why we need to be present in this historic march, to represent the opposition that exists to the Canadian government's complete failure to address climate change. The Council of Canadians is also supporting this historic march as part of our ongoing work towards climate justice. Climate justice demands that we address the root causes of the climate crisis including unsustainable production, consumption and trade. Real solutions must be based on democratic accountability, ecological sustainability and social justice."

The Council of Canadians is helping to organize a bus of about 53 people from Ottawa to New York for the march on September 21. For updates on that action, please see @CouncilofCDNs, #ActionNotWords, #PeoplesClimate and #Climate2014 on Twitter.

We are also supporting the Flood Wall Street direct action that will take place on September 22.

© 2021 Council of Canadians
Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. He supported cross-country activism at the Council of Canadians for almost 20 years. Brent has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Saskatchewan and an M.A. in International Relations from York University. He lives in Ottawa on the traditional, unceded, and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin nation.

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