Thursday, November 18, 2010

Canada's Conservative Government at Odds with the Public on Climate Change

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have a deplorable environmental record. It is believed to be one of the factors behind the failure of Canada's bid to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Although Canada has a massive footprint, the ruling Conservatives are avoiding action on climate change. In a political strategy that would make American Republicans proud, Harper's Conservative government has managed to do nothing to reduce Canada's contribution to climate change.

Most recently, Canada's Conservatives defeated a climate change bill that had passed in the House of Commons last year. The bill called for 25% cuts in the country's CO2 emissions below 1990 levels. Conservatives in Canada's non-elected Senate killed the motion, which was backed by opposition parties, in a vote on November 14th, just 13 days before COP16, the UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Even before the most recent climate insult, the Canadian government was the target of a great deal of criticism on the climate change front. Canada's record on the environment is so poor they were repeatedly singled out for the dubious 'Fossil of the Day' distinction during last year's COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen.

In February 2010, the Guardian unearthed a leaked document from a Chinese think tank that condemned Canada for being "devoted to conniving" at COP15. According to The Guardian, the Chinese text says that Canada spent the conference trying, "to convince the world that its pledge of a 3% emissions reduction between 1990 and 2020 is significant, while having no intention of meeting its Kyoto protocol target of 6%."

Canada has indeed abandoned its Kyoto commitments and the CBC reported that the Conservatives have no plan to reach the 3% target (20% below 2006) that they had promised.

The government's view is at odds with Canadians. According to one poll, Canadians believe climate change poses a significantly bigger threat to the “vital interests” of the nation over the next decade than international terrorism.

While nearly half of those surveyed said climate change is a “critical threat,” only about one in four people said the same about international terrorism. A similar poll conducted in 2004 showed Canadians believed the two threats were about equal.

A more recent poll indicated that 70 percent of Canadians said they would somewhat support or strongly support government action to reduce oil subsidies in Canada, estimated to cost taxpayers about $2 billion per year.

In a separate question, 65 percent of respondents said they opposed the Harper government's strategy of waiting for the US and other nations ''to develop their plans for climate change before it implements further measures to address climate change."

A new poll confirms that the Harper government is indeed out of step with Canadians. The poll indicates that the Canadian public has far different priorities than the government when it comes to climate change.

Over 80 percent of Canadians believe the Canadian government should invest in “green jobs” and transition programs for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift off of fossil fuels.

It is ironic that in 2007 Stephen Harper called climate change, “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.” As 2010 draws to a close, Canadians are indicating that they want action on climate change, yet Harper's Conservatives appear content to do nothing.

Related Posts
WWF's Canadian Living Planet Report
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Why Canadian Environment Minister Resigned
Canada is a World Leader in GHG Emissions
World Urges Canada to Do More on Climate Change
Conservatives Ignore Canadians While Jeopardizing the Environment
Copenhagen Accord: Canada to Reduce its GHG Emissions
The Impact of a Climate Change Deal on Canada
Why Canadian Conservatives Must Make Concessions on Climate Change
Canada Makes Dramatic Shift on Climate Change Management Policy
Program and Plans for G8 and G20 Summits in Canada
Obama's Visit to Canada
Conservative Budget: No Green for Canada
Canada Votes: Environmental Politics
Green Policy Debated in Canadian Parliament
The Montreal Protocol Celebrates 23rd Birthday
Montreal 2010 World Energy Congress
Canada and 350.org's 10/10/10 Event
Canada's Most Sustainable Businesses
Canadian Municipal Green Incentives
Government Energy Policy the Environment and the Economy
A Sustainable World Order

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