Green party critic visits Madrid for UN climate conference

Kings County Record | December 17

The region of Fundy Royal is being represented on the international climate change stage this week. 

Tim Thompson, the former Green Party candidate for Fundy Royal, is in Madrid alongside federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and several other former candidates to attend the Convention of the Parties 25, which work toward address the international agreement to tackle global climate change. 

It was established in 1995 after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992. The COP25 works to move that framework forward. 

“We brought a small delegation with Elizabeth May,” he said in an interview. “We’re attending the conference which is quite massive, we’re attending different meetings. Elizabeth May is focusing on specifically Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.” 

Thompson said they’ve been talking with and learning from other world leaders about how Canada, and in his case New Brunswick can move forward on climate goals. 

“Things that we could bring back to New Brunswick, [that’s] the focus of the three New Brunswickers who are here,” he said. 

At the conference, Thompson sat in on lectures and discussions with Al Gore and Greta Thunberg. He attended with two other Green Party former candidates including Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Claire Kelly, federal party leader Elizabeth May, and Thompson campaign manager Addison Fach, as well as two former candidates from British Columbia. 

“She’s actually used her platform, instead of her speaking, to allow scientists to speak,” he said. “So we had some of the world’s leaders in science speak to us, and even youth around the world speak to us about the impact of climate change in their region.” 

He said one of the things that have impacted him the most at the conference is how small the world actually is when it comes to the impacts of climate change. 

“For me, it’s been how small the world actually is,” he said. “What we do in Canada has major effects on the places far away from us, like small pacific islands.” 

He said he would like to see a look at the transportation system, like creating a more efficient travelling model that maximizes the number of users and minimizes the carbon footprint. 

Personally, Thompson said the experience has been eye-opening for him. 

“Life-changing, I would say,” he said.

Thompson said he is eager to return to New Brunswick to start discussions on how to move forward on prevent more devastated by floods, and also deal with mental health issues associated with the occurrence of natural disasters and the damage it leaves behind. 

Fredericton South MLA David Coon also attended COP in 2015 and said the conference provides a wealth of resources for policy-makers but noted New Brunswick fell far behind other areas in the country and internationally. 

“The most important thing is what they learn about what the rest of the world is doing to mount an emergency response to the climate emergency,” he said in an interview. “That is what struck me in 2015 when I was at the Paris Climate summit as part of the New Brunswick delegation.” 

He said it didn’t matter who was speaking or what they were speaking about, it was clear that New Brunswick was not where it needed to be. 

Coon believes the public’s mounting pressure of political leaders to act will help.

“There is a real push, that is only continuing to grow to get political leaders to act and respond to the climate emergency as an emergency.”

He said it’s important for those attending the conference to learn from what other countries are doing. Some of the things they’ll see over there have been pioneered right here in New Brunswick, but because of barriers to entry to the various industries, they have been prevented from reaching their full potential. 

“I think another thing they will bring back is a greater sense of urgency that we need to act,” he said.

By Nathalie Sturgeon