G20: Climate Change No Longer A Priority

Thursday, 13 May 2010 14:49 The Canadian Press

Canada brushed aside a direct public demand Wednesday by the visiting United Nations chief and reiterated that it will not make climate change a priority agenda item when it hosts the G20 summit next month.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper stuck to his G20 plan to keep the summit’s focus squarely on the global economic recovery after he met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his Parliament Hill office.

Ban said he wanted climate change front and centre on the agenda when Canada hosts the G20 summit next month in Toronto. Ban also exhorted the Conservatives to live up to the greenhouse-gas reduction targets Canada negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol.

“Canada has a special role and special responsibility to play. That is what I am going to emphasize here,” Ban told about 500 diplomats, civil society leaders and academics in a packed hotel ballroom before meeting Harper.

“I urge Canada to comply fully with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. You can strengthen your mitigation target for the future.”

Harper has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated by the previous Liberal government and calls for a six per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 based on 1990 levels.

The Conservatives have pledged a 17 per cent reduction by 2020, based on 2005 levels, which is in line with U.S. targets.

An advisory panel has told Harper to play down climate change at the G20, essentially telling him it is too ambitious a topic to tackle now. The prime minister is hosting the G20 in Toronto as well as a G8 leaders’ summit in Muskoka, Ont., north of the city.

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