'Embarrassing' to be a Canadian at climate talks: Green party leader

The UN climate conference held in Poznan, Poland, was a "mark of shame" for Canada, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said on Saturday.

The UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland, was a "mark of shame" for Canada, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said on Saturday.

Delegates from poorer nations were angry at Canada for not meeting its commitments under the Kyoto protocol, as well as all industrialized countries for stalling on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, May told CBC News.

During the conference, which began Dec. 1, Canada won several Fossil of the Day Awards, announced by Climate Action Network International, a group that includes more than 400 non-governmental organizations.

"It was embarrassing being a Canadian at these meetings," May said.

"Canada, unfortunately, was about the worst performer here, and that's saying a lot. That means worse than the United States with the lame-duck Bush administration, still doing what it can to obstruct.

"But in the negotiations, Canada, I say, won. It's really a mark of shame," she said.

May said the mood was anything but upbeat as the talks came to a close with a post-midnight session, ending early Saturday, nine hours after the conference had been due to close.

May sees no real progress at talks

"The speeches at the end of the session really were tinged with regret, and, from some countries, outright anger that the industrialized countries have been taking their time, coming up with excuses," May said.

"There was not real progress made here. It was basically an agreement to keep on talking," she added.

Environmental groups have criticized Canada for its plans to use 2006 as a base year for calculating greenhouse gas emission reductions, instead of the year 1990, as outlined in the Kyoto agreement.

The Climate Change Performance Index, an assessment compiled by environmental groups Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, ranked Canada second last out of the 57 largest greenhouse-gas emitters in its performance in fighting climate change, ahead of only Saudi Arabia.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice defended his government's performance, saying Canada's delegates had constructive dialogues with other countries.

"Not everyone necessarily agrees with our positions," he said. "However, we have been quite clear that we wish to be a constructive force in concluding an effective international protocol.

"I have engaged in bilaterals with many of the countries that are here and will continue to do that as we work toward Copenhagen."

Delegations from nearly 190 countries are negotiating a new climate change pact, to be completed next December in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, that would succeed the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.