King's student attends UN climate change negotiations

King's student Emilie Novaczek talks about her time at the UN climate change negotiations in South Africa, and how Canada is rumoured to be pulling out of the Kyoto Accord.

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Youth delegates at the 2011 UN climate change conference, AKA COP 17. (Photo: UNclimatechange Flickr)

Although unconfirmed by government officials, it appears Canada will be pulling out of the Kyoto Accord. University of King's College student Emilie Novaczek attended the UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa this week as a Canadian youth delegate. In a skype interview with CKDU on Wednesday, Novaczek said it's no surprise Canada is backing out.

"Even before they pulled out, Canada was nowhere near our targets," Novaczek says.

She says it was made clear at the conference that the countries who are backing out of Kyoto are looking to do less in the area of sustainability. By backing out of the accord, Novacek says Canada is making climate change in this country even harder.

"If a member as big as Canada, with our history... and massive industrialization... isn't going to commit, it's very hard to convince other countries that they're going to need to," Novaczek says.

Will Canada ever commit?

Novaczek says that Canada is the only country who committed to the accord, and then changed the rules of how to follow it. Canada did not meet any of their goals, and then changed the target date from 1990 to 2005.

Daniel Rainham is a professor at Dalhousie, and chair in sustainability and environmental health. He says Canada pulling out of the accord won't affect the government's attitude toward dealing with climate change.

"I don't personally believe that Canada has done anything on a federal perspective, to move towards [the Kyoto] targets," Rainham says.

He says another part of the problem is the government's unwillingness to accept climate change as scientific fact.

"I don't believe that the government takes seriously some of the science that's coming forward," Rainham says.

Rainham says there's been effort to dispute whether climate change is caused by humans.

"And their take has always been that if there isn't a coordinated national response then there's no way that Canada is going to put themselves in a situation where they'd be at an economic disadvantage," Rainham adds.

Out to change the world

Novaczek learned last year she was chosen as one of 29 Canadian youth delegates to attend the COP 16 United Nations Climate Change Meetings in Cancun, Mexico. She was chosen again this year to attend the meetings in Durban.
 
Novaczek, who will graduate in 2012 with a bachelor of science, studies at both King's and Dalhousie College of Sustainability. Her commitment to sustainability and the environment was recently mentioned in a feature article in The Watch magazine.
 

This story originally aired on the CKDU news on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The news show is produced by journalism students in the radio workshop class at the University of King's College. The original radio piece was done by Connor Rosine.


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