11/29/2012 04:10 EST | Updated 01/29/2013 05:12 EST

Greens Leader Accuses Tories Of Sabotaging Climate Talks


When it comes to progress on climate change negotiations, the best thing for Canada to do is to stay home and stop sabotaging the process, says the leader of the Green Party.

"Canada continues to be a country that pushes other countries to do less. Our role is not just an embarrassment, it's reckless and brings our once good national reputation into disrepute," argued Elizabeth May at a news conference in Ottawa today.

World governments are in Doha, Qatar working out a new deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of this year. Canada announced it was pulling out of the Kyoto process last year but is still officially involved in the Kyoto process until Dec. 15.

May called the Canadian government's behaviour in Doha scandalous because she alleges the Conservatives are working to weaken an agreement just before pulling out of it.

May is unmoved by the fact that Canada is only responsible for 2 per cent of global emissions. She chanelled former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy to explain why.

"When we decide to sabotage global agreements, we punch above our weight. We've done far more damage to the global climate through obstructing negotiations, through twisting arms to try to keep India from taking on targets, to try to stop global progress, than we have ever done through the volume of our emissions," May said.

Tories fire back

The government points out that the Doha conference is about more than just the Kyoto Protocol. Canada, along with New Zealand, Japan and other countries, is working on a deal that would encompass all emitters, not just the world's developed countries.

"While Ms. May and others are focused on the 15 per cent of global emissions covered by Kyoto, we are working to get the other 85 per cent of emissions covered by a binding, international agreement that will have real impact in combating global climate change," Rob Taylor, spokesperson for Environment Minister Peter Kent, wrote to CBC News.

Taylor added that Canada is also a founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. That's a group looking to deal with short-lived climate pollutants like methane and black carbon.

May suggested Canada could rejoin the treaty process with its new, easier-to-meet target of reducing greenhouse gasses to 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

"Tell the rest of the world that we'll negotiate to get back into Kyoto but that's our target [17 per cent below 2005 levels]. You know what? They'd take us back," said May.

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