Environmentalists are calling for Canada’s contribution to a fund, designed to allow developed countries to help developing nations address mitigation and adaptation needs, to proportionally match its per capita emissions, says an article in Embassy magazine.

The Green Climate Fund, one of the commitments under the Copenhagen Accord of 2009, was adopted under the Cancun Agreements in 2010 with developed countries agreeing to provide $30 billion in “fast-start” financing from 2010 to 2012, with the ultimate goal of up to $100 billion per year by 2020.

Canada provided $400 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, with the country’s total international public climate financing estimated at $441 million during that period .

But the article says that NGOs and climate scientists say Canada should be contributing far more. For example, Simon Donner, a climate scientist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, said Canada should contribute an amount proportional to its GDP or its greenhouse gas emissions. This would mean a $2-billion contribution per year, since Canada is responsible for around two per cent of global emissions.

Others argue that Canada’s record on climate change meant it should contribute more in financing. Meinhard Doelle, associate professor of law at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law and associate director of the school’s Marine and Environmental Law Institute, said countries should contribute according to how much they do at home to fight climate change.

“If Canada takes on a tough [emissions reduction] target, I think there is less pressure to significantly contribute public funds to the Green Climate Fund, but as long as Canada continues to push for very lenient targets on the mitigation side…there will be more and more pressure to provide funding.”

Mark Fried, policy co-ordinator at Oxfam Canada, said the climate fund talks will provide Canada with a chance to change its reputation.

“This is Canada’s great opportunity…to not look so bad, as Canada has in past climate conferences. If Canada is going to be a stick in the mud on greenhouse gas emissions, at least they can look good on financing,” said Mr. Fried.

As reported recently in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Harper government’s astonishing cuts to climate science and monitoring is making Canada look increasingly like a backward nation in terms of its awareness of and action on climate change – an international political disappointment that fails to do justice to the beleaguered wealth of Canadian scientific excellence on this topic.

We used to be proud leaders in this field. Acknowledging our emissions levels through appropriate financial responses might be one way for the federal government to prove it hasn’t completely lost touch with world events.