Embargoed until 12:00 a.m. EST November 30, 2011
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kumi Naidoo and other African leaders call on Canada to fight global warming, not boost tar sands
Full-page Globe and Mail ad contrasts Canada’s past positive role in apartheid struggle with current negative global warming position
As the UN climate summit gets underway in Durban, South Africa, a group of anti-apartheid activists and African non-governmental organizations are calling on Canada to restore its reputation as a leader on global issues, which has been tarnished by Canada's active promotion of the tar sands.
A full-page ad in the Globe and Mail compares the Canada that was one of the first western countries to impose sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1986 with the Canada's failure to date to respond to global warming, which will have serious social and environmental impacts. The text of the ad reads:
"Canada, you were once considered a leader on global issues like human rights and environmental protection. Today you’re home to polluting tar sands oil, speeding the dangerous effects of climate change. For us in Africa, climate change is a life and death issue. By dramatically increasing Canada's global warming pollution, tar sands mining and drilling makes the problem worse, and exposes millions of Africans to more devastating drought and famine today and in the years to come. It's time to draw the line. We call on Canada to change course and be a leader in clean energy and to support international action to reduce global warming pollution."
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, with projected reductions in agricultural yield in some countries as high as 50 per cent by 2020. The population at risk of increased water stress in Africa is projected to be between 75-250 million and 350-600 million people by the 2020s and 2050s, respectively. East Africa is currently dealing with one of its worst ever droughts, with a quarter of a million people at risk of death in Somalia, and a further 12 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
"By walking away from Kyoto, the Canadian government is also damaging our reputation as a country that keeps its word," said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. "The tar sands are not only turning us into a polluting nation, but also into one that will break its commitments in the service of dirty oil."
A new website,www.DrawTheLineatTarSands.com was also launched which features videos from African individuals speaking about the impacts of climate change on their lives and calling on Canada and other world leaders to do more. Online ads will be running on TheGlobeandMail.com, YouTube and facebook. The groups involved include Environmental Defence Canada, Equiterre, Greenpeace Canada, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nobel Women's Initiative and Sierra Club U.S.
"We used to boast about how Americans sewed Canadian flags on their backpack when travelling abroad," said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Now we try to bully other nations into taking our dirty oil. If we want to be taken seriously in the fight to stop climate change, we have to draw the line at the tar sands.”
"Exploiting dirty Alberta tar sands oil is not merely short-sighted—from the global perspective, it's downright negligent," says Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. "If the United States is going to be a leader in the emerging clean energy economy, we must break our addiction to oil—and there’s no better place to draw the line in the sand than at tar sands."
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Gillian McEachern, Environmental Defence, 613-292-4416; email@example.com
Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada, 416-659-0294
Eddie Scher, Sierra Club U.S., 415-815-7027