Kyoto - What will be Canada's role?

Ottawa, Canada (GLOBE-Net) – Next week, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose will jet to Bonn for the opening ceremony of a round of technical meetings on the Kyoto Protocol. Canada still occupies the Presidency of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but has publicly declared it will not meet its Kyoto targets. As a consequence, Canada’s role in future multilateral climate change talks appears uncertain.

From May 15-26, officials and scientific representatives from member countries will meet in Bonn, Germany to participate in meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the UN Framework – both of which deal largely with technical and methodological issues.

This includes work on forecasting climate change vulnerability and adaptation, facilitating technology transfer with the developing world, and examining specific sectors such as forestry, aviation and marine transport. Financial mechanisms, national greenhouse gas inventory procedures, and other practical matters will also be discussed.

Minister Ambrose will preside over the opening of the meetings, and is scheduled to depart the following day. This is usual, say officials, and only one other minister, from host Germany, will be present.

All countries have the option to submit a working paper with proposals to support the dialogue, and most industrialized countries obliged. Canada was one of the few exceptions, as China, the United States, Brazil, Japan, South Africa and all members of the European Union delivered working papers.

“It (the Bonn meeting) is historically significant it’s the beginning of the dialogue on long-term co-operation. There’s no obligation to send us written submissions in advance (but) the major industrial countries have done so,” said John Hay, spokesman for United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, reports the Globe and Mail.

Some believe that as Canada’s support for Kyoto declines following the recent change in government, so too will the influence it can exert in future Kyoto-related negotiations.

Canada played a central role at the last Conference of the Parties in Montreal in December, where a last-minute agreement was salvaged as countries agreed to extend the dialogue for the post-Kyoto period. Then Environment Minister Stéphane Dion who presided over the event was credited with hard work to build international consensus before the talks, as well as a strong effort when it seemed as though the United States would block a final agreement.

The next meeting of the Conference of the Parties will take place November 6-17, in Nairobi, Kenya. This gathering of the ‘supreme body’ of the UN climate change effort will be crucial in determining whether or not the agreements reached at Montreal will be furthered with commitments for the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. Canada will give up the presidency at that event.

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