Opening statement at joint COP/MOP conference
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin opened the high-level segment of
the combined COP and COP/MOP meeting before a full assembly with a
clarion call to action under the Kyoto Protocol. The lengthy ovation
following the speech provides evidence of the broad consensus for
strong decisions coming out of these negotiations.
Referring to the growing number of business leaders urging
governments to pick up the pace of response to the global warming
threat, Mr Martin said:
"What they need from us – from government –
is the certainty that we won't fail them in our duty to build the framework they need, whether it's hard targets or a market for capped emissions and trading credits."
He addressed one of the major tensions at this meeting – the failure
of a few wealthy countries to take responsibility for solving the
problem. He said:
"Climate change is a global challenge that demands
a global response, yet there are nations that resist, voices that attempt to diminish the urgency or dismiss the science – or declare, either in word or in indifference, that this is not our problem to solve."
In response, he added: "Well, it is our problem to solve. We are in
this together. The time is past to seek comfort in denial. The time
is past to pretend that any nation can stand alone, isolated from the
global community – for there is but one Earth, and we share it, and
there can be no hiding on any island, in any city, within any
country, no matter how prosperous, from the consequences of inaction."
In his remarks at the press conference immediately following his
speech, he said:
"To the reluctant countries, including the United
States, I say this: there is such a thing as a global
conscience and this is the time to listen to it…There is absolutely no excuse for any more delay in action."
As expected, US Minister Paula Dobriansky responded curtly to the
Prime Minister's charges at another news conference later in the
day. "One size does not fit all," she said. "It is our belief that
progress cannot be made through formalised discussions."
[translation: Fuck you ExxonMobil hired me and we are not going to take action!]
In his speech, Mr Martin rebutted the main excuse offered by the US
for not taking meaningful action – the fear it would harm the
economy. "Some speak of the cost of bringing about change. But surely
we realise by now that a greater cost will be exacted if we lack the
will or the tenacity to change," he said.
Just before the speech, 25 prominent US economists, including three
Nobel Laureates, called upon the US to reduce its greenhouse gas
emissions through a market-based cap-and-trade approach that would
provide "clear incentives for changes in business practices and the
development of new technologies."
The Prime Minister ended with a stirring call to arms. He said: "We
are called here to protect our planet. We are called here by our
citizens. We must find the will and the way to live up to what they
have every right to expect from us…The challenge is ours. So is the
The only question remaining is whether Ministers here in Montreal
will respond to the Prime Minister's challenge with the serious
decisions needed to chart the path forward, for both the Kyoto
Protocol and the Framework Convention. Nothing less is acceptable.