Wednesday, December 2, 2009

World Urges Canada's Conservative Government to Do More to Manage Climate Change

Despite the urgings of scientists, the UN, European leaders and even Queen Elizabeth ll, Canada's ruling Conservative party continues its deplorable record of environmental neglect. The most current science reiterates the fact that governments must act now to curb GHGs. A new study entitled the Copenhagen Diagnosis, co-authored by Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria indicates we need to see significant emissions reductions to avoid the calamitous consequences of climate change.

According to WWF statistics, Canada is seventh in the volume of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its per capita emissions are double those of Europe or Japan, four times those of China and twelve times those of India.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada was required to reduce its GHG emissions until 2012 by at least 5.2 percent from its 1990 levels. However the country's greenhouse gas emissions have risen 26 percent between 1990 and 2006.

The current Conservative government rejected the Kyoto Protocol signed by the former Liberal government and hatched a plan to cut emissions by 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2020. However, most countries, including the US are putting an absolute cap on greenhouse gases. The Harper government advocates a plan focused on carbon intensity targets. The problem with carbon intensity targets is that while emissions-per-barrel go down, overall emissions output can actually increase.

Canada's greenhouse emissions continue to grow according to the latest greenhouse-gas inventory from Environment Canada. After a slight decline in 2004-06, Canada's total emissions soaring again in 2007.

There are several factors behind Canada's growing emissions including Alberta's oils sands, increases in the number of vehicles, and greater reliance on coal-fired electricity. "Long-term [emissions] growth remains significant," says an Environment Canada summary report for 2007 released last spring. It says the country's emissions are now 33.8 per cent above Canada's Kyoto commitment.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki Mood, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen have all urged world leaders to act in pursuit of a deal in Copenhagen. The head of the United Nations suggested Canada is not doing enough to curb its GHG emissions. At the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago the head of the United Nations asked Canada to come up with more ambitious targets to reduce its GHG emissions.

Queen Elizabeth II met with Canadian Prime Minister Harper after she opened the Commonwealth summit with an address that highlighted the climate-change issue. "The Commonwealth can be proud of the fact that in each of its six decades, it has shaped the international response to emerging global challenges. And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more...The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come."

Canadian Prime Minister Harper suggested that Canada may make minor adjustments to its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions before climate talks in Copenhagen. However, the Canadian government remains pessimistic about a climate change deal. "I think...the odds of an agreement at Copenhagen are a long shot," said Peter Kent, minister of state for foreign affairs.

Canada's emissions targets are far too low and the current Canadian government seems content to stay the course.
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Next: Canada Makes Dramatic Shift on Climate Change Management Policy

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