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Yukon delegates on why they're going to COP21

Yukon's delegation to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris is growing, though the details of what all the delegates will do there are not yet clear.

Premier, opposition leaders, CYFN chief flying to climate summit later this month

A passerby walks in front of posters for the forthcoming COP 21 World Climate Summit in Paris, France. The conference will start on Nov. 30. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

It's just 20 days away now, but some Yukon delegates going to the Paris climate summit are a little vague on what exactly they'll do there.

"The invitation was extended, and we haven't heard anything since," said Yukon Liberal leader Sandy Silver. "We don't know the travel plans, we don't know where we're staying."

Silver was invited to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) by Premier Darrell Pasloski, who also invited NDP leader Liz Hanson. Pasloski later invited Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie, as well.

With Yukon's climate change youth ambassador and officials from the Yukon Climate Change Secretariat also going, the Yukon delegation will fill more than a few airplane seats.

Pasloski estimates the Yukon delegation will consist of about 10 people, but he doesn't yet have a final tally, or an estimated cost for the trip. Nor does he have a conference itinerary. 

"I think that as we get closer to the dates, that will become clearer and certainly the agenda will be very public," Pasloski said.

A learning experience

'There will be many opportunities for us to learn,' said Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson, who will be part of the Yukon delegation. (CBC)

Even though none of the Yukoners will be at the main negotiating table, it's a worthwhile trip, said Hanson. 

"Whether it's the economics, about resource extraction, sustainable development, whole issues around global poverty, all of those are impacted by climate change," she said.

"We can expect that there will be many opportunities for us to learn from people from around the globe."

Lewis Rifkind, with the Yukon Conservation Society, recognized the "irony" of flying a gang of Yukoners across the world to attend a climate conference, but he called it an "incredible opportunity" that shouldn't be passed up.

Lewis Rifkind of the Yukon Conservation Society says COP21 is an 'incredible opportunity' for the Yukon delegates. 'Sometimes we're in a bit of a bubble up here,' he said. (CBC)
"Sometimes we're in a bit of a bubble up here," Rifkind said. "Hopefully [delegates] get to meet with people from Scandinavia, from Northern Europe, from Russia, and see what they're doing to reduce climate change and to reduce fossil fuel consumption."

"There's a lot being done in very similar jurisdictions."

The COP21 conference runs Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, in Paris.

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