Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prentice: Scientist dropped from climate delegation to save money.

This sounds ludicrous but probably is true. While billions are doled out to rescue auto makers who are failing at the same time our reputation as a country involved in climate research is soiled because of a few dollars. How can we expect to develop globally recognised scientists in the area when we treat them so shabbily. The reward for doing badly is billions for doing well not even being allowed to speak at a conference when his travel expenses are actually paid by the WMO!

Scientist dropped from climate delegation to save money: Prentice
Last Updated: Saturday, December 13, 2008 11:39 AM ET
By Paul Jay, CBC News
Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the government's decision to not send one of Canada's leading scientists to the international climate talks wrapping up in Poland Friday was financial, not political.
Senior Environment Canada scientist Don MacIver was scheduled to deliver a speech Dec. 5 as part of his role as the chair of the organizing committee for the World Meteorological Organization's climate conference.
MacIver's travel costs were to be covered by the WMO, but Ottawa declined to give him permission to attend.
Prentice said civil servants at Environment Canada made the decision based on financial constraints.
"The objective was to have a somewhat smaller delegation than we have had in the past in the interests of fiscal prudence," Prentice told reporters on Friday from the United Nations climate change conference Poznan, Poland. Canada has sent about 22 people, one of the smallest delegations in recent years, he said.
"[MacIver] was originally scheduled to attend, but in the interests of cost-saving, he is one of the people who the civil service decided would not attend," said Prentice.
Prentice said he was not involved in the selection process but said the scientist's paper was neither contentious nor critical to the Poznan conference.
MacIver was one of Canada's leading scientists working on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.
He was to speak on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization on the legacy of world climate conferences, with a focus on the objectives and outcomes expected for the August climate conference scheduled for August 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
MacIver was unavailable for comment, but Environment Canada and the WMO confirmed he has resigned from his role as chair of the World Climate Conference organizing committee.
Environment Canada spokesperson Sujata Raisinghani said MacIver's reasons for resigning are "a personal matter" and that the federal agency would not speculate on the issue.
She added that Canada remains a supporter of the World Climate Conference and has committed $150,000 to the event.
Canada and representatives from nearly 190 other countries were using the talks in Poland to hammer out the process for reaching the next phase of the Kyoto agreement, to be signed in Denmark next year.
On Friday negotiators at the conference said they freed up some $60 million from a U.N.-backed Adaptation Fund to help poor countries adapt to increasingly severe droughts, floods and other effects of global warming.
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.
But Prentice said the talks were productive and were a step towards a binding agreement that would apply to all emitters, including countries like China, India and the United States.With files from the Associated Press

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