Laurier student to attend Copenhagen

When the world’s leaders convene in Copenhagen, Denmark on Dec. 7 for the beginning of the 15th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), third-year Laurier student Emily Slofstra will be there to witness the historic event.

Slofstra will be attending the UNCCC, which coincides with the International Conference of Youth (COY), as a part of a Canadian youth delegation that also includes 10 students from the University of Waterloo.

The Canadian government has been under immense scrutiny from the international community over their lack of commitment to carbon reduction, so when Slofstra heard about the opportunity, she knew she had to go.

“Everyone is changing … but Canada is staying the same,” she said.

The Alberta tar sands project is just one factor contributing to Canada’s growing reputation as an environmentally apathetic state. Canada is even under review for suspension from the
Commonwealth for their lack of climate change policies.

Canada’s reputation was soiled further when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Nov. 18 that he would not be attending the conference. One week later on Nov. 25, U.S. president Obama said he would be attending. It only took until Nov. 28 and intense public criticism for Harper to reverse his decision regarding his own attendance.

Slofstra said Canadians should be embarrassed about the bad press Canada is receiving, and that representing her country in Copenhagen will hopefully let the world know that there are Canadians who care about the impacts of climate change.

“A lot of us are going because we feel that it’s our last chance … we have to go to Copenhagen, it’s the last thing we can do to convince people,” she explained.

In addition to educating people from other countries, the delegation will educate people back home. As well as assisting with the Canadian-based program The Mass Dialogues, Slofstra and her UW co-delegates will give summaries of the talks everyday via Skype video-conferencing.

The conference will take place between Dec. 7 and Dec. 18; the primary goal of this year’s edition will be for UN members to agree on carbon reduction goals starting after 2012 when the failed Kyoto Protocol expires.

Canada has announced prior to the conference that their bid will be to reduce emissions to 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020.