Thursday, July 1, 2010

Conservatives Ignore Canadians While Jeopardizing the Environment and the Economy

Although Canadians want environmental action and Canadian businesses need green incentives, the ruling Conservatives don't seem to care.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have made a mockery of Canada's previous environmental leadership.

According to a report titled, "Global Climate-Friendly Trade: Canada's Chance to Clean Up," almost 70 percent of Canadians wanted the Harper government to show leadership at the G8 and G20 summits, 78 per cent wanted the Harper government to use the summits "to signal that Canada wants to be a leader in the global fight against climate change.''

In a separate question, 65 per cent of respondents said they opposed the Harper government's strategy of waiting for the US and other nations.

The Pew Charitable Trust said Canada poured $3.3 billion US into clean technologies in 2009 while China invested $34.6 billion US in clean-energy. The Pew study said countries like China, Brazil, the UK, Germany and Spain are ahead of Canada in green technologies.

The Canadian business community does not have the needed incentives to establish stronger competitive positions in the clean energy economy. Canada lacks a strong, national policy aimed at reducing global warming pollution. According to a Conference Board of Canada study, Canadian businesses are not deeply engaged in the exploding global market for green technology,

The report said world trade in climate-friendly technologies grew by an average of 10 per cent annually from 2002 to 2008. But it said Canada's exports in that area didn't grow at all during that period. "The trade data suggest that Canada is not deeply engaged in the global market for climate-friendly technologies...To the degree that it is involved, it is more of a technology adopter than a technology maker."

According to Danielle Goldfarb, the reports author and the associate director of the Conference Board's International Trade and Investment Centre,“it is not too late for this country to be a leader in some technologies, parts of technologies, or related services," Some of those areas include gas turbines, membranes for landfills, waste containers and photovoltaic system controllers.

The report suggests that if Canadian businesses want to be leaders in these technologies they have to adopt more globally oriented business practices and get more policy support from government.

The report estimates that global imports of cleantech totaled $209 billion in 2008. Canada's share of that was $4 billion, or about a 10th of Germany's share.

The Harper governments inaction on climate change is not only an environmental disgrace, it undermines Canada's economic future. While the federal government protects unsustainable resources like the oil sands, Canada is falling behind on greentech.

It would appear that the Canadian Prime Minister has little respect for the will of the Canadian people and little understanding of the vital role that green will play in the emerging global economy.
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