Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm ashamed of the Harper government's actions in Bali

I wholeheartedly agree with Montreal Gazette columnist Janet Bagnall that, "Canadians should be ashamed of our government's actions in Bali."

In her column today, Bagnall summarizes the importance of the Bali climate change conference and how Stephen Harper is actually making matters worse for the planet, not better. What a contrast to the 2005 Montreal conference on climate change where Stephane Dion helped Canada lead the world.

Bagnall writes: "Bali must be the political response to the recent scientific reports by the IPCC," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "All countries must do what they can to reach agreement by 2009, and to have it in force by the expiry of the current Kyoto Protocol commitment period in 2012."

But Canada, for one, seems to have no intention of doing any such thing. Our country, one of the world's Top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, will, under the Harper government, continue to undermine negotiations under cover of seeking "fairness."

Fairness, to the Harper government, consists in waiting until other top emitters sign on to a post-Kyoto agreement before it commits itself to anything. China, India and the United States would have to agree to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by a fixed number before Canada acts.

Ban Ki-moon says it best in this Times Online piece:

“The world’s scientists have spoken with one voice: the situation is grim and urgent action is needed,” Mr Ban said at a gathering of 190 countries on the Indonesian island of Bali. “The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically. We are at a crossroads: one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other one to oblivion.”

Man, I can't wait until Stephane Dion becomes Prime Minister and we finally get some actual and much needed leadership in Canada on this issue. Here's an excerpt from Dion's column in today's National Post:

"Canada can and must lead the world toward a sustainable, low-carbon economy by reaching for the top, not racing to the bottom. We can do better than simply "aspire" to action in the distant future.

"Finally, we must help developing countries adopt the new technologies and forestry practices that will allow them to reduce their emissions -- and that will showcase Canadian business ingenuity at the same time.

"Global warming is already inevitable and we will have to adapt, both at home and around the world. There is much work to do in Bali to create a blueprint for the future. And Canadians know that this is not a job for the reluctant or the faint of heart. That is why, whether or not Prime Minister Harper and Minister Baird choose to do the right thing, I will be in Bali, standing for my convictions, and for the hopes of millions of Canadians and people around the world."


ALW said...

So let's review:

Signing a piece of paper, and then failing to meet any of the targets is a resounding success and shows leadership.

Being frank about our track record, and pointing out that a global problem can't be solved without the involveemnt of countries responsible for 2/3 of emissions, is embarassing and a disgrace.

Alright then.

Matt Guerin said...

I'm not defending Chretien's record on this. He can be blamed for not making this a priority, as can Martin, although Martin only 1.5 years to act. I think Dion's short term in the portfolio is something to be proud of, particularly his leadership at the 2005 Montreal conference. As we all know, change of this magnitude requires a commitment from the PM and we simply haven't had that up until now, I'll admit. Dion would be our first PM for whom real action on climate change would be a priority.

Harper is pushing his 'all-or-nothing' approach because he knows it'll end in failure and with no international agreement, which suits him and his friends in the oil patch just fine. He's hoping for no international agreement or an agreement with no targets so Canada and other countries can simply do what they want (i.e. nothing or allow increased emissions that allegedly have less density and then claim they're making progress) and not have to meet any international commitments. It's those pesky international agreements that make governments of all stripes look so bad. By the time the carbon dioxide levels rise above emergency levels in the atmosphere in future decades, Harper will be long gone. How can he be so callous? Not sure, but probably something to do with his ideology getting in the way of his other faculties.

Harper's position is Canada won't do anything until Bush does. Some position.

Anonymous said...

Harper's position is even flimsier when you consider that the US Delegation essentially announced they were leaving any movement on climate change to the next administration . . . BEFORE they even left for Bali. It's being reported all over the US with that message.

Saying we "won't do anything" isn't "being frank." It's just looking for an easy way out. "Being frank" would fall somewhere along the lines of saying Canada has fallen short in the past but we're going to do our part now - which is X - and we're going to stand on the side of the overwhelming number of nations in demanding that the biggest emitters start doing their part as well.

That's leadership! What's happening is abdication of leadership.

ALW said...

Yeah: pretending that an agreement without the Americans is worthwhile - now, that's leadership.