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G20 Protestors Urge Canada: Don’t Wait for US on Climate Change

Canada HarperOn the morning of June 25, a coalition of environmental groups issued a call to action at the G8/G20 summit in Toronto. Organized by Climate Action Network Canada, the press conference at the Summit’s alternative media centre highlighted a survey completed just days ago that saw 70 per cent of respondents saying they "support the government taking action to reduce fossil fuel subsidies.” In addition, the survey said that 78 per cent of respondents believe “the Canadian government should use the G8 and G20 meetings as an opportunity to signal that Canada wants to be a leader in the global fight against climate change.”

“The poll sends a clear message that Canadians aren’t buying the government’s line that we need to wait for the U.S. before we can tackle climate change. Canadians want leadership on climate change, and they see these summits as a moment to take action,” said Graham Saul, Climate Action Network.

Although left off the official agenda at the G8 and G20, the climate change issue has managed to gain some traction thanks to the efforts of activists as well as progressive political leaders from the European Union and Mexico who are unwilling to wait for the next United Nations meeting in Cancun later this year to discuss a way forward on climate mitigation and adaptation.

“Will the G20 be the answer for the climate crisis? I don’t think so,” said Dave Martin, climate change policy advisor for Greenpeace Canada. “The UN is how and where the crisis will ultimately be addressed. But the G20 can play a crucial role in fostering that consensus. It is halfway between Copenhagen and Cancun and it is an important moment in the evolving history of climate change.”

Little more than a half-hour after the climate change press conference, the G8 got underway in Huntsville with a media briefing. Climate change was not mentioned in the short discussion. And it is not certain if and when the topic will be raised in the summit meetings.

Pressure continues tonight with the Shout Out For Global Justice event at Massey Hall, featuring a range of speakers including Pablo Solon, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations and lead negotiator for Bolivia in Copenhagen, as well as Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow.

Ron Johnson
Is based in Toronto, Canada, where he is an editor for Post City magazines and contributes to The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, The National Post and the London Business Times.

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