PM Harper not the only leader skipping UN climate summit
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, September 21, 2014 9:00AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is among world leaders choosing not to attend the United Nation's climate summit in New York on Tuesday.
The UN has said the summit will be a chance for world leaders to set the tone before a 2015 conference in Paris, when participants will try to agree on legally-binding climate change regulations.
Harper is planning to be in New York later in the week, but is focusing his efforts on the UN General Assembly, where he will deliver a major policy speech. He will also attend a special UN event on maternal and child health care.
Activists say the prime minister’s decision to send Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq to the climate summit is proof that he doesn’t care about climate change. The Council of Canadians wrote on its website that Harper’s choice to miss the meeting “is simply not good enough.”
Author Margaret Atwood dared Harper to make an appearance at the summit:
Harper isn’t the only leader opting out of the event, where leaders will discuss climate policy, but will not make any legally-binding agreements.
A list of speakers provided by the UN shows that leaders from China, India, Russia, Australia and Germany are also sending other government officials in their place.
According to the list, China, the world’s highest carbon dioxide emitter, will be sending Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli instead of President Xi Jinping. Russia, the world’s third-highest carbon dioxide emitter, will send its “advisor to the president on climate change.”
Canada also ranks in the top 15 countries with the highest carbon dioxide emissions.
Harper is scheduled to travel to New York just two days after the summit wraps up. Although Harper will miss the summit, he is scheduled to attend a dinner on climate change with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Like Harper, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been criticized for planning to narrowly miss the summit. He is scheduled to arrive in New York on Sept. 24.
U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron are both on the list of 125 confirmed summit speakers.
On CTV Question Period this Sunday (11 a.m. ET on CTV, check your local listings), we’ll look at Harper’s climate summit absence -- the latest point of contention in a string of clashes between the Conservative government and environmentalists.
Also in the lineup: Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, who says the ongoing disagreements are the result of Harper’s economic policies. See what else will be discussed on Question Period here.