Laurier student leaves climate change conference disheartened

Emily Slofstra, a third-year Laurier student, travelled to Copenhagen for the 15th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCC) with a delegation of students with hope for serious change.

However, the results of this year’s UNCC have left a bitter taste in Slofstra’s mouth.

“The original goals that were set out about a fair, ambitious and legally-binding treaty did not come to fruition. The police state in Copenhagen was ridiculous and one experience with almost getting beaten by cop batons was enough for me – at least without full body armor,” she said.

When the dust settled in Denmark and 193 nations jetted back to their respective states, the Copenhagen Accord had been reached.

“It’s not much to talk about,” she said.

What she’d rather not talk about is the world’s agreement in principle to fight climate change by reducing emissions – exact goals are to be released at a later date.

“The Copenhagen Accord that was created was developed in a back room with only a few nations. When they started to cut back on observer entrance numbers, they completely blocked Friends of the Earth and eventually almost completely cut out NGO entrance…. To be honest, I got tired of the pettiness by the end of the second week and left before Obama arrived. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference.”

It wasn’t good news for Canada either. The Harper administration was awarded the Fossil of the Year designation once again as “the absolute worst country at the talks,” announced a number of environmental groups at the conference.

“Canadians themselves are not content with the country’s handling of these issues,” said Slofstra of her experience at the UNCCC.

“Most NGOs and observers especially found Canada to be a laggard, especially on the issue of the tar sands.”

Slofstra said the highlight of her trip was walking with Canadian journalist/activist Naomi Klein at one protest and getting to meet American environmentalist Bill McKibben.