OTTAWA — Allegations from an internal Chinese government report that Canada was “conniving” to get the world to accept weakened climate change goals at last December’s international summit on global warming are ludicrous, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Thursday.
“Canada has always been completely open, completely transparent and we have been constructive,” Prentice said in an interview with Canwest News Service. “We have not been conniving.”
The critique, which analyzed the results of international climate negotiations last December in Copenhagen, was produced in an internal document from a Chinese government research organization that was leaked to a British newspaper.
The Guardian reported Thursday that the analysis accused Canada and other developed countries of conspiring to sabotage the international negotiations by driving a wedge between emerging economies and other developing countries.
The document also singled out Canada because it “was devoted to conniving” the other countries about the ambition of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its national goal of reducing emissions by three per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, The Guardian reported.
Prentice later announced in January that Canada would revise its climate change target for 2020 to reduce emissions to about three per cent above 1990 levels.
“The choice of the word ‘conniving’ is interesting, since it implies others see Canada as less than honest when trying to convince them we are doing our fair share,” said Matt Price, policy director at Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based research group. “Worse is that the Harper government has put forward even weaker targets than the ones that led to this comment in the first place.”
The Harper government has always maintained that it has no intention of honouring Canada’s commitment to achieve its target under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions between 2008 and 2012 by an average of six per cent below 1990 levels.
The Copenhagen conference failed to deliver a new binding deal to extend and expand on the existing legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to global warming after the end of the first phase of the Kyoto agreement in 2012.
But Prentice noted that some stakeholders, including the United Nations top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, praised Canada for its constructive role at the negotiations. Prentice added that one of the most complex issues at the table was whether China would make a commitment to reduce emissions and allow for a transparent international review of its performance.
“That was frankly the most difficult question at the table in the time leading up to Copenhagen,” Prentice said. “At the end of the day, a solution was defined in the Copenhagen Accord to the whole question of obligations for emitters such as China and also the transparency that they would have to provide in terms of international review of their emissions and reductions in emissions.”
Price also agreed that there was plenty of blame to go around among other countries for the conference’s failure to deliver a legally binding treaty.
Prentice said Canada supports the ongoing negotiating process and is hoping it will lead to a full treaty over the next year or so.
Officials from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa could not immediately be reached for comment.