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A spartan crew for BC in Copenhagen

B.C. may be pursuing a low-carbon economy, but the provincial government will have few voices speaking for it in Copenhagen. Among the 15,000 participants taking part in next week's climate talks in Denmark, the provincial delegation will consist of just three people.

According to a Ministry of Environment spokesperson, only premier Gordon Campbell, one of his staff members and an official from the B.C. Climate Action Secretariat will be among B.C.'s provincial government delegation in at the global climate talks taking place from Dec. 7-18.

Environment Minister Barry Penner, Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom, and Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap will be among the 48 government MLAs staying home.

About 60 heads of state, including Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, will be taking part in the two-week climate conference in Copenhagen, attempting to reach agreement on a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions plan to follow up the scrapped Kyoto Protocol.

Quebec premier Jean Charest will promote his province's GHG emissions targets in Copenhagen, and has publicly urged Harper to be a leader in the climate talks. Charest's pledge to cut emissions 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 are the strongest cuts proposed by any Canadian province, trumping Campbell's goal of reducing emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020. Charest's stance could set the stage for Canadian infighting at Copenhagen.

On Friday, the federal government said it will toe Barack Obama's line at Copenhagen, ensuring Canada's policy on greenhouse gas emissions is the same as the United States'. While Obama has set GHG targets, he faces a tough task in trying to get the U.S. Congress to approve the plans.

B.C. opposition leader Carole James failed to mention anything about the Copenhagen talks during the party's biennial convention in Vancouver in late November.

B.C. produces about a tenth of Canada's more than 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide produced each year.

A delegation from Kairos, a Canadian social justice group representing 11 different churches and organizations, will travel to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to help lobby for an agreement that would include cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Kairos met separately with the four main federal parties in Ottawa in late November to call for greater action on climate change and for a halt to new oilsands projects.

Greg Amos reports for the Tyee.

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