Meeting Mr. Michael MartinYou asked, he answered.

Michael Martin, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change and head UN negotiator here at the Bonn II climate talks, sat down with me as I asked the questions asked by you, the readers.

  1. Do you have a negotiating mandate for here in Bonn?
  2. How do you think the talks are going so far?
  3. How can Canada negotiate emission targets for the year 2020 when our federal targets won’t be phased in until 2012?
  4. Given China’s recent positive actions on climate change, is Canada now more willing to agree to the required science-based emission targets?
  5. Does Canada have a position yet on agreeing to avoid 2 degrees of average global warming, which is the projected temperature point at which irreversible changes largely occur?
  6. If you could ask 1000 Canadians to do one thing to be constructive and help you be effective in these negotiations, what would you suggest they do?

Read the answers here.

Note that the following are not direct quotes.

1.  Do you have a negotiating mandate for here in Bonn?

Canada is here to push the discussion as far as possible towards agreeing on a legal form of the text we have in front of us. At the end of the day, we will need a political consensus. If the text is not complete – i.e. if it doesn’t include broad participation [developing countries and China] – then it will not pass the test. Canada has shown that we have a constructive willingness to work on the text.


2. How do you think the talks are going so far?

I don’t think they are going badly. Things are moving. Countries are talking.


3.  How can Canada negotiate emission targets for the year 2020 when our federal targets won’t be phased in until 2012?

The process of implementing emission reductions in Canada is already underway. As announced, the government is putting forward regulating initiatives (all with different timings, of course) such as lower-emission requirements for cars, and those cars will be on the market by 2010. Other initiatives include the renewable fuel subsidy, etc. Many of these projects will come into play well before 2012.


4.  Given China’s recent positive actions on climate change, is Canada now more willing to agree to the required science-based emission targets?

Canada agrees to the science-based emissions targets. That is not a question.  The debate is burden sharing – how much Canada’s fair share of emission reduction is. This is a shared discussion of looking at the logical implications of different goals. China’s position is important, but our commitment is there anyways.


5.  Does Canada have a position yet on agreeing to avoid 2 degrees of average global warming, which is the projected temperature point at which irreversible changes largely occur?

Canada has never stated its commitments in terms of degrees. However, it’s certainly clear that 2 degrees of warming is serious and might even be allowing us to go too far: We’ve seen legitimate proposals of suggesting 1.5 degrees of warming should be our limit. We get that, and Canada needs to be taking as much action as we can to respond to the science.


6.  If you could ask 1000 Canadians to do one thing to be constructive and help you be effective in these negotiations, what would you suggest they do?

I am always open to receiving policy ideas and proposals. People can send me anything.  I cannot comment on the political end of this – I am strictly policy and negotiations.

For more on Michael Martin and his role as Canada’s lead climate negotiator, check out this article in The Star.

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