Having recovered from the chaos of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, below you will find a few thoughts on the process and being a Canadian internationally:
The learning experience was incredible; for me, the chance to interact and discuss with others from around the world is probably the most valuable aspect of attending an international conference as a non-governmental observer.
What I found unfortunate though, was that so many of the sessions geared toward observers, side events, as they were called, did not address the ways in which countries could/should/would work together. There were many fabulous presentations about what country x was doing and how others might mimic their actions. A couple of really interesting talks on the role of regional and municipal governments (something Canada is actually praised for on the international stage, go us!). But not a whole lot about how all this can fit into a global system.
Presumably that was left for the plenary sessions – discussions for government leaders to have. Passes were extremely limited for these sessions so unfortunately I did not get to attend any. The question then is, if the plenary is too full, why were side events not created to focus on similar challenges?
I think that if we are going to find a global solution to these environmental challenges we are going to have to really consider the NGOs role and ensure the COP proceedings reflect that. This means observers need to be able to observe the crucial discussion, to learn about what can be done, to be able to bring these ideas back to their respective homes and help their governments find ideal solutions.
Before I wrap up, I’d like to bring up one last thing – being Canadian internationally, and working with our government and other organizations. I am Liberal so you can probably guess how I feel about the current government, but I am a proud Canadian. And I believe climate change is a crucial issue TODAY, so you can probably guess how I feel about our inaction, still, I am a proud Canadian.
I have a big problem with Canadians going abroad and saying they are “ashamed to be Canadian” – What’s worse is that it was Canadians telling other Canadians to be ashamed.
Yes it is bad that Canada won so many fossil of the day awards, yes it is bad that we do not have a concrete plan for reducing emissions, yes it is bad that we are not stepping up to the plate and taking a leadership role.
But it is good that we have municipalities and provinces who praised for their environmental advancements, it is good that we have some of the worlds experts on climate change right here in Canada and it is even better when we help each other promote the good rather than attack each other over the bad.
We are Canadians and we are better than being bullies.
We are Canadians and we have the capacity to produce strong policy.
We are Canadians and we can be leaders.
Thanks for your time!
Delegate Lead: Young Liberals of Canada,
for International Federation of Liberal Youth,