Climate talks heat up in cold capital

Ottawa’s first blast of winter came just hours after the federal government made its first move of many in the fight against rising temperatures. Prime Minister Trudeau met with the country’s premiers — besides those of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories — at the Canadian Museum of Nature Monday night to discuss a plan to combat climate change.

It was the first meeting of its kind in seven years but it’s far from the last word on climate change this week.

As the world descends on Paris next week for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Alex Tétreault, an organizer for Ecology Ottawa, will be leading thousands of people from Ottawa City Hall to Parliament Hill in the ‘100% Possible March for Climate Solutions and Justice.’

Tétreault said he is hopeful the newly appointed Liberal government will stick to its promises and insists Sunday’s march isn’t any kind of complaint. “Some people might say ‘If it’s so positive, why do you need a march?’” he said. “A march is not always a protest; it can be a celebration.”

“That’s kind of how we’re seeing this right now,” he said. “We support you in what you say, now make it happen for real. So this whole thing is framed in a positive light.”

But not everyone is buying what the government is selling. Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, said he believes no real solutions will be found with Trudeau in Paris. “The trouble is that what most governments have done —Harper did this too so it’s not really a left-right issue — is they focus on trying to stop climate change by reducing greenhouse gases,” said Harris, an Ottawa resident. “That’s kind of foolish because Canada counts for two per cent of the world’s emissions. China and India are not going to reduce their emissions, that’s pretty clear.

“They even have an out clause in the current text for Paris where they won’t have to reduce at all,” he added. “So let’s say Canada reduced our emissions massively, say 30 per cent. Well it would be 30 per cent of two per cent.”

Still, Velta Tomsons (pictured), another organizer at Ecology Ottawa, said there is room for optimism in Ottawa. “I think it’s important that the Environment Minister is now the Minster of Climate Change and the Environment. That’s huge,” Tomsons said. “It’s putting a label on an issue that has never really been discussed at the higher levels of government. So that is very exciting.”

Author: Nathan Caddell

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