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Tie Canada’s UN Security Council Bid to Climate Action, Thunberg Urges Island States

Greta Thunberg Justin Trudeau

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushing hard for a long-coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council, #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg is urging small island states to hinge their votes for both Canada and Norway on the two fossil countries stepping up their action on climate change.

Trudeau “has devoted a lot of political capital to trying to win the spot,” in a contest with Norway and Iceland for two available Council seats, The Canadian Press notes. The vote takes place next week.

Thunberg “is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small island developing states, which says Canada and Norway both give lip service to climate action but remain steadfast in their commitment to expand fossil fuel production and subsidizing oil companies,” CP reports. “Three other youth climate activists and 22 global climate scientists also signed the letter, including Eddy Carmack, a recently-retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist who was awarded the Order of Canada this year for his work on climate change.”

The letter calls on ambassadors to set the expectation for Canada and Norway to “unite behind the science” on the climate emergency, put an end to new oil and gas exploration and production, and phase out their existing production, CP says. “For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home,” the letter states.

“With most European countries expected to side with their continental neighbours, Canada has put its effort into wooing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, including most of the more than three-dozen island countries targeted by Wednesday’s letter,” the news agency notes. “Trudeau has spoken or met directly with the leaders of nearly one-third of those countries since February.”

But “in their letter, Thunberg and the others say Canada is nowhere close to hitting its Paris climate agreement targets. They also say Canada is the second-biggest supplier of fossil fuel subsidies among the world’s wealthiest 20 countries and has opened up billions of dollars in loans to fossil fuel companies as part of its COVID-19 economic aid.” If the country were serious about climate action, they add, it would enact a permanent ban on Arctic oil and gas drilling, cancel the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines, and end all fossil subsidies.

Thunberg and her co-authors “give Canada credit for promising to make climate change a regular part of the Security Council’s discussions, and push for it to create a new special representative for climate security,” CP adds. And they’re “critical of Norway for continuing to increase oil and gas exports, saying Norway now exports 10 times as many emissions as it produces domestically. They point out there is a vote on June 12 in the Norwegian parliament that could increase tax benefits for oil companies as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter says Norway should eliminate, rather than expand, those tax benefits.”