Canadian youth activists in Durban organized a bake-sale to protest against the government's pro-oil company polices that appear to be dictating its performance at the U.N. climate talks in Durban. Their plan was to make enough money so that the Canadian government would represent "people instead of polluters. "Oil companies have bought Canada's climate change policy," said Malkolm Boothroyd, 19 from Whitehorse City. "We're holding a bake sale to buy back our future."
The cookies and cakes were supposed to fetch $1.4 billion -- the annual subsidy that the Canadian government provides to oil companies. At the end of a three hour sale, the bakers had collected a couple of hundred bucks in a few jars. Their symbolic gesture is a call to Canadians to turn the tide by buying back their government from the corporations.
The talks in Durban kicked off on a bleak note after Canada announced that it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol -- the only legally binding treaty on climate changes, which places international legal obligations on 37 developed countries.
Since then, activists and negotiators alike have expressed anger against Canada. "We cannot let the distraction of Canada take us away from the very real progress that is likely to be made and can be made with the EU and others around a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as a crucial pathway forward for a legally binding regime and for ambitious emissions reduction," said Kelly Dent from Oxfam.
Seyni NAFO, the spokesperson for the African Group, spoke both bitingly and emotionally about Japan and Canada's decision to withdraw from the treaty. "It has consequences of course," said the young diplomat from Mali. "It is very frustrating to have two of our very dedicated partners actually not helping us in coping with the most threatening disaster."
Environmentalists are also against Canada's use of tar sand to produce oil -- a process that consumes massive energy. The U.S. has delayed approving a tar sand pipeline after thousands joined domestic protests against it. Canada has already been declared "the Fossil" of the conference twice along with the U.S. and Poland. The award is administered at 6:00 every evening by the Climate Action Network to the country, which has done its best to block progress in the talks. "Canada again earned the first place Fossil of the Day on Tuesday for a complete mismatch between what it knows the world needs, and what it is willing to do," is the reason it got first place.
Civil society activism, which got off to a slow start in Durban, is now picking up creative momentum. Besides the bake sale, the Sierra Club had a funeral procession for burying coal to mark the closing of more than 150 proposed new coal power stations in the U.S. over the past 5 years.
The most noise was created by activists protesting against the World Bank being potentially put in charge of administering the Green Climate Fund, which will provide $100 billion a year starting from 2020 to developing countries for combating climate change. "The World Bank is not a world bank," said Nnimmo Bassey, a South African activist. "It is a coal bank."
Mailes Zulu, another activist from Zambia, said that she wants say in who would be in-charge of the money that was meant to help communities like her own. "I don't want the World Bank," she said. "They don't favour rural people."