November 16, 2006

Canadian shame at the UN's conference on global warming

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.


Anonymous said...

I would definitely disagree with the analysis global warming is simply a developing world problem, caused by the emissions of the developed countries. With todays economy operating at a globalized scale, there will be a large amount of economic impacts, not just natural impacts.

That being said, the melting of the ice caps and sea level rise will no doubt affect the northern lattitude countries, endangering the Gulf Stream and many major cities in North America. While we already have tightening security surrounding immigration policies, the northern hemisphere will be overwhelmed by environmental refugees from those developing countries if it does not act.

Although I believe that the conservative rhetoric is supporting the short term economic benefits of fossil fuel based economies, I find the argument that this will not affect the affluent countries of the north quite problematic, short sighted, and wrong; especially in this era of globalization.

While the passing off of environmental costs to the developing world is seen as acceptable, there is no doubt that there will be Climate CHANGE. This will affect all regions differently, however, we are all connected.

Anonymous said...

In 2009, China will pass US with regards to greenhouse gas emissions. Here's a prediction: when this changing of the guard occurs, there is no way will the US allow China to ruin OUR atmosphere. We will be appalled and aghast & it will be spread all over our newspapers. We will suddenly be huge proponents of large scale global change.