Canada PM Stephen Harper to Skip UN Climate Summit

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People hold candles during Earth Hour after the lights were turned off in central Amman March 29, 2014.
People hold candles during Earth Hour after the lights were turned off in central Amman March 29, 2014. Earth Hour, when everyone around the world is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time, is meant as a show of support for tougher actions to confront climate change. Reuters/Ali Jarekji

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will skip the United Nation climate summit to be held in New York on Tuesday.

According to the UN, the summit is going to be an opportunity for world leaders to lay the foundation of the 2015 Paris conference. Paris is going to be a platform where national leaders will attempt coming to an agreement on legal regulations on climate change. CTV News reported that Harper would go to New York later. His focus during the visit is going to be the UN General Assembly. The Canadian Prime Minister is going to deliver a critical speech on his policies there. Harper is also scheduled to attend a special event on child and maternal health care.

According to activists, Harper's decision not to attend the summit proves that he cares little about climate change. Canadian poet and activist Margaret Atwood earlier tweeted to PM Harper saying that it was "time to face up to the truth." She shared a webpage on a "global climate movement" that asked Harper to attend the summit. "We dare you to go to New York for the UN Climate Summit and try to defend Canada's climate record before the world," it said.

According to the website, Canada's climate performance is the worst in the entire Western world. The exploitation of tar sands is the primary reason Canada will fail to meet its own meagre climate targets, and continues to violate the rights of Indigenous peoples. It asks Harper to "face the music in New York" and see how far out of touch he has become from the international community and the reality of climate change. Canada is sending Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq to New York.

Harper, however, is not the only national leader to skip the summit. Even Australia, Russia, India and China - which are among the top countries with highest carbon dioxide emissions - are also going to be represented by government officials in place of the heads of the state. China, which tops the list of countries with highest carbon dioxide emissions, will send Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in place of President Xi Jinping.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au

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