Under pressure, Canada PM to attend climate talks

Thu Nov 26, 2009 5:14pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government is often criticized for dragging its feet on global warming, will attend U.N. talks next month in Copenhagen designed to find a successor to the Kyoto climate change protocol.

Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas said on Thursday that no date for the prime minister's visit had yet been set. U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would be in Copenhagen for the start of the meeting on December 9.

"We will be attending the Copenhagen meeting ... A critical mass of world leaders will be attending," Soudas said.

News of Obama's plans increased the pressure on Harper from opposition legislators and others to attend the talks.

Green groups regularly bestow "fossil of the day" awards on Canada at international climate change meetings on the grounds that it is being obstructionist.

Canada's Conservative government walked away from the Kyoto climate change pact, saying it could harm the economy. Ottawa has so far given few details about its own plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The main opposition Liberal Party said that almost four years after taking power, the government still has no idea what it is doing about climate change.

"We are entering the most important negotiations ever and our businesses, our provinces and our municipalities have been left to fend for themselves," Liberal legislator David McGuinty told the House of Commons.   Continued...

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>