Canada has embarrassed itself terribly at the UN's global warming conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Conservative environment Minister Rona Ambrose used the occasion as an opportunity to take a piss at the previous Liberal government and its Kyoto failings instead of outlining any new policy platform or vision for the future.
Ambrose's speech was considered highly inappropriate. A number of environmentalists and opposition parties were openly shocked by her partisan attack. Matthew Bramley, a climate change policy analyst at the Pembina Institute, remarked that "It was like a speech at the House of Commons."
What's particularly upsetting is that Canada is now regarded, quite justifiably, as one of the world's worst contributors to anthropogenic global warming. Just days before Ambrose's speech Canada was given the "Fossil of the Day" prize -- an award given out by environmentalists to nations they say have delayed, obstructed or stalled the negotiations. After yesterday's shameful showing, Canada picked up its second Fossil award. Activist Maia Green said Canada had won again for, among others things, "misleading" the world, "repudiating" the Kyoto Protocol and "flagrantly ... washing its political laundry on the international stage".
Last year, in a report published by by researchers at Simon Fraser University and released by the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada was rated one of the worst environmental performers in the world. Compared to 30 other industrialized nations, Canada ranked 28th in economic co-operation and development, 28th in energy consumption and 26th in greenhouse gas emissions. Disturbingly, the report also indicated that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are 2 times higher and major smog-causing air pollutants are 2-3 times higher than the average. Canada has remained 28th out of 30 since 1992.
The Conservative minority government is clearly not prioritizing environmental issues, nor is it working to uphold the existing international frameworks. A BBC report from last January titled "Will Kyoto die at Canadian hands" stated that "When the history of the Kyoto Protocol comes to be written, Canada will appear as a particularly influential figure in the narrative." Indeed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that he does not support Kyoto, and worse, has yet to set out what his climate policies will look like -- adding to the frustration stemming from Ambrose's recent speech; it was a squandered opportunity.
Months into the Conservative party's reign it is becoming frightfully apparent that this government is offering no leadership in regards to global warming -- arguably the most pressing issue of our time.