Climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small island developing states, in a June 10, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Greta Thunberg pushes Canada, Norway, on climate before UN Security Council vote

OTTAWA — Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is urging developing island nations to use the upcoming United Nations Security Council election as leverage to push Canada and Norway to step up their games on climate change.

The 17-year-old from Sweden has become one of the most recognized climate activists in the world with her climate strike movement growing into a global phenomenon last year.

She is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small island developing states, which says that Canada and Norway both give lip service to climate action but remain steadfast in their commitment to expand fossil fuel production and subsidizing oil companies.

“For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home,” the letter reads.

Three other youth climate activists and 22 global climate scientists also signed the letter, including Eddy Carmack, a recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist who was awarded the Order of Canada this year for his work on climate change.

The letter asks the ambassadors to raise the issue with Canada and Norway “and demand that they unite behind the science” of climate change, commit to no new oil and gas exploration or production, and phase out their existing production.

Canada is going up against Norway and Ireland for the two seats available in next week’s election to the prestigious UN body. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has devoted a lot of political capital to trying to win the spot.

With most European nations expected to side with their continental neighbours, Canada has put its effort into wooing countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, including most of the more than three-dozen island nations targeted by Wednesday’s letter. Trudeau has spoken or met directly with the leaders of nearly one-third of those countries since February.

Norway and Canada both have economies heavily based on oil and gas. Ireland has very little fossil fuel production and last year committed to ending oil and gas exploration altogether.

Thunberg first expressed her discontent with Canada’s climate policies directly to Trudeau last September, when the two met in Montreal on the same day hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets as part of a global climate strike.

In their letter, Thunberg and the others say that Canada is nowhere close to hitting its Paris climate agreement targets. They also say Canada is the second-biggest supplier of fossil fuel subsidies among the world’s wealthiest 20 countries and has opened up billions of dollars in loans to fossil fuel companies as part of its COVID-19 economic aid.

Oil companies have been particularly hard hit from a combination of plummeting demand for oil products, and a production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia than flooded the world with more oil at a time it was already using less.

For major oil companies, and other big corporations, to qualify for the loans, Canada does require them to show a climate plan and how their business is helping Canada meet its emissions targets.

The letter writers said if Canada was serious about implementing the Paris agreement it would make permanent its temporary ban on extracting oil and gas in the Arctic, cancel both the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipeline projects, and end all subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

They give Canada credit for promising to make climate change a regular part of the Security Council’s discussions, and push for it to create a new special representative for climate security.

The letter writers are also critical of Norway for continuing to increase oil and gas exports, saying Norway now exports 10 times as many emissions as it produces domestically. They point out there is a vote on June 12 in the Norwegian parliament that could increase tax benefits for oil companies as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter says Norway should eliminate, rather than expand, those tax benefits.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2020.

Greta Thunbergoil & gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

College expects lower enrolment but president remains optimistic

International travel restrictions will have big impact on foreign students

Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases continue to trend downwards

85 new cases Tuesday, active cases sit at 1,004

Overwhelming majority of Red Deer students could be back in classrooms this fall

Preliminary survey results show 94 per cent parental support

Some Red Deer County residents oppose a gravel pit proposed for a flood-prone area

Howell’s Excavation co-owner says the proposal meets or exceeds standards

Workers at Regina linen company contract COVID-19 but facility safe: officials

REGINA — Health officials say 18 employees at a linen facility in… Continue reading

Alberta reports 257 new cases of COVID-19

The Alberta government reported 257 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest… Continue reading

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez notches upset in first round of Top Seed Open

Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez notches upset in first round of Top Seed Open

Healthy ace Scherzer pitches Nats past Mets 2-1 for 1st win

Healthy ace Scherzer pitches Nats past Mets 2-1 for 1st win

Portland beats Orlando 2-1 to claim MLS is Back championship

Portland beats Orlando 2-1 to claim MLS is Back championship

First-round back-to-backs favour NHL teams with 2 top goalies

First-round back-to-backs favour NHL teams with 2 top goalies

NHL pushes game back a day after 4 overtimes in playoff opener

NHL pushes game back a day after 4 overtimes in playoff opener

Lightning outlast Blue Jackets 3-2 in 5 OT thriller

Lightning outlast Blue Jackets 3-2 in 5 OT thriller

Shaw, Blue Jays beat Marlins 5-4 in MLB’s return to Buffalo

Shaw, Blue Jays beat Marlins 5-4 in MLB’s return to Buffalo

Most Read