Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 12, 2009
Canada urged to be a leader on climate change
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
MONTREAL - Canada needs to show leadership on climate change, says Bernd Nilles, general secretary of CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies.
"Why is such a rich country not able to make a clear offer on the climate negotiation?" asked Nilles, in an interview from Montreal where he had stopped in for sessions with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, one of its member organizations.
"We need countries that take a lead," he said. "Climate change is here; it is not theoretical."
Nilles, who is based in Belgium, had come to Canada fresh from climate change meetings in New York City Sept. 20-24. He participated in a delegation from CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis-the Holy See's federation of Catholic charitable organizations.
The CIDSE-Caritas alliance is the largest alliance of development agencies in the world, Nilles said.
"It's a responsibility for us to bring the voice of our partners from the poor parts of the South," he said.
"We are working in all regions of the world; we have the information coming from the field; we know where climate change is really happening. We have the scenarios."
They have launched a campaign for "climate justice" that would see the richer, developed world not only "mitigate" their emissions, but also finance poor nations to adapt to the effects of climate change.
In low-lying countries like Bangladesh, sea water is coming into fields. Climate change is exacerbating the food crisis and creating hunger, he said.
Though Canada has been arguing that it must wait to see what the U.S. program looks like, Nilles called the tactic a "cheap excuse."
He pointed out the European Union has made an offer without the U.S. so Canada should be able to do the same.
Canada is confusing international discussions by referring to 2006 rather than 1990 levels in making reduction targets.
Canada's offer means only a three per cent reduction, he said. The EU has reduced emissions since 1990 by 20 to 30 per cent. "Scientists say we need at least 40 (per cent)."
CIDSE and Caritas have organized an international petition at their website, CIDSE.org, under "Create a climate for justice" where people can sign petitions and postcards that will be forwarded to world leaders.
"Governments need to feel that their societies want this agreement," he said.
GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESS
Nilles said business also needs clear guidance from governments so it can work within a regulatory framework. "An economy can only plan future investments if it knows the targets."
"We have to act," he said. "There is no alternative. Each year your government does not take decisions, it will cost Canada and other governments more to do it later."
Letter to the Editor - 10/26/09
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