Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Canadian Conservatives Must Make Concessions on Climate Change Policy

External and domestic pressures pushed the ruling Canadian Conservative government to alter their climate change management policy. The Canadian government has indicated that it will harmonize its policy with the US by supporting absolute emissions caps, a cap-and-trade system and, if need be, regulation.

The Conservatives proposed emissions reduction targets (3% below 1990 levels by 2020, or 20% reduction below 2006 levels by 2020) are woefully inadequate. Many Canadians are demanding more from the federal government.

Canadian opposition parties worked together to adopt a motion calling on the government to support science based targets at COP15. Although the Conservatives opposed the motion, it passed in the Canadian Parliament. The motion also asks industrialized countries to adopt a target to reduce their emissions by 25 per cent below 1990 levels as well as to provide support for developing countrie's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Led by Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, the provinces urged Ottawa to accept more ambitious cuts to Canada's greenhouse gas emissions at COP15.

Quebec said it would meet a 2020 target of 20 per cent below 1990 levels, similar to that of European Union countries. Ontario plans a 15 per cent cut below 1990 levels in the same time frame and British Columbia plans to reach 33 per cent below 2007 levels in the next decade.

High Canadian emissions could also result in tariffs from the US and Quebec has warned that Europe and other countries are considering putting environmental barriers into national trade legislation.

The Conservatives are not champions of the environment, however they may opt to downplay their resistance to a climate change deal at COP15.

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