Friday, December 18, 2009

Stephen Harper and Canada Not Invited to Obama's Discussions on Climate Change Deal

It was distressing, but not surprising; to learn that Canada was one of the only G8 countries not invited to attend the closed door meeting, hosted by President Obama, and attended by heads of state.

This is the third snub by the U.S. President, and it must be coming clear to Harper that he is simply not liked by the man.

He was left out of the Afghan discussions, possibly because of our alleged complicity in torture; and he is left out of climate talks, because we are now an embarrassment on that issue as well.

Our government has clearly aligned itself with the Republicans and Fox News. Unfortunately they have dragged us along with them.

Obama makes last-ditch effort to save climate deal
Allan Woods Ottawa Bureau
Decemebr 18, 2009

COPENHAGEN–President Barack Obama emerged empty handed from a meeting with 18 other world leaders to try aimed at shepherding through a global climate deal Friday.

There is still more work to be done before 193 countries can put their signatures on a political statement that will signal success at the end of these two-week talks.

"After months of talk, and two weeks of negotiations ... I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear," Obama said in a speech to the conference.

"We are ready to get this done today, but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better to act than to talk."

The U.S. President told his counterparts gathered in the Danish capital that an agreement he can accept must include financing for poor countries, emissions-reduction targets and the promise of transparency from major emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and South Africa, which have all made pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Without some method of ensuring that they are keeping the promises they have made here in Copenhagen, the act of signing a climate pact would be a "hollow victory," Obama said.

Brazilian President Lulu da Silva said in the speech preceding Obama's that transparency – some should be an essential element of the deal, and he went one step further, promising to kick in financing for the least developed countries and poorest nations on the planet.

There are a number of different draft texts that have been produced and could be merged into a final agreement, a White House official said.

Dave Martin of Greenpeace said there is a dollar figure for long-term financing but no clarity on who will provide the money. Leaders have also agreed on a fund for the next three years that is expected to provide about $10-billion annually for quick action in the developing world.

"But heads of state and governemnt have so far failed to agree on the crucial issues of emission reduction targets and how to verify these cuts," he said.

Still, there is optimism, at least in part because so many world leaders are now in Copenhagen and seem determined to reach an outcome.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that countries are united in purpose and "the finishing line is in sight."

"Now is the time to be united in action, common action. Now is the time for common sense, compromise and courage, political courage. Political courage, political wisdom and political leadership should prevail."

The meeting is scheduled to wrap up in the Danish capital later Friday and lack of progress could send the talks into overtime if leaders cannot find agreement.

But there is electricity in the air, said John Drexhage, the Ottawa-based climate change director with the International Institute of Sustainable Development.

"People have come in with a bounce in their step this morning," "There's something in the offing. No doubt about that."

Shortly after arriving in this city, Obama headed into a closed-door meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.

Italy and Canada were the only G8 nations not invited to attend the talks. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is back home after being attacked by a protester earlier this week, suffering injuries that included a broken nose and a chipped tooth.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived at the Bella Center, where the summit is being held, at around 9:30 a.m. local time with bloodshot eyes after attending a gala dinner hosted by the Danish Queen that stretched until two o'clock Friday morning. Talks amongst lower-level negotiators who were hashing out the legal wording of the text here went well into the morning Friday before a public session of the conference convened, a few hours late, at noon.

"We stand before one of these rare and defining moments in history," said Danish Prime Minister Lars Rokke Rasmussen said.

"Now we must chart the course of the future of our planet. I sincerely hope that you have come here with the consensus that December 18, 2009, marks the beginning of a bright and green future."

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