Prentice at odds with envoy over climate walkout

Environment Minister Jim Prentice contradicted his top climate-change envoy Wednesday by denying some countries walked out after Canada’s address during recent climate talks in Thailand.

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jim Prentice contradicted his top climate-change envoy Wednesday by denying some countries walked out after Canada’s address during recent climate talks in Thailand.

Prentice insisted no one left the room after the Canadian delegation suggested replacing the Kyoto Protocol with an entirely new global-warming pact.

“It did not happen,” he told the CBC.

But the environment minister’s remarks are at odds with those of Canada’s chief negotiator and ambassador for climate change, who told The Canadian Press some countries did, in fact, leave the room.

“At that particular discussion, while some people did get up and leave, others didn’t and the meeting continued and people came back the next day and discussions continued,” Michael Martin said.

But he disputed reports the entire Group of 77 developing nations — except for a group of small island states — left the room.

“It certainly wasn’t the whole G77. I think there were some countries — South Africa, China, I can’t remember, there were about five or six — who said, ‘We don’t want to talk about this’ and they left,” Martin added later.

The walkout came at the end of an informal meeting held one evening, he said.

Prentice’s denial of the walkout came on the same day prominent environmental scientist and author Tim Flannery accused Canada of being a laggard in talks to forge a new deal to fight climate change.

The best-selling author of The Weather Makers said Canada has been “singularly unhelpful” at negotiations to broker a draft deal in time for the United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen in December