Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Harper Government's Tragic Environmental Record is Cause for National Shame

The environmental performance of Canada's ruling Conservative government is a source of national shame. Canada now ranks as one of the worst environmental abusers in the world. Under Stephen Harper, Canada's Conservative government has all but abandoned any pretense of environmental protections. This view is corroborated by a number of reports including one from Neil Maxwell, the interim commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. His report points to Canada's poor image on green issues.

Maxwell specifically referred to ‘the wide and persistent gap between what the government commits to do and what it is achieving’ and said the federal environment ministry has missed key deadlines to protect migratory birds, failed to protect wildlife habitat and has done nowhere near enough to protect species at risk.”

In addition to failing to meet its GHG reduction commitments, Canada's federal government has a long rap sheet of environmental abuse. This includes gutting environmental oversight, spending on dirty energy exploitation, killing environmental dissent, silencing climate scientists, withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol, withdrawal from UN efforts to combat desertification, and using Canada's intelligence services to spy on peaceful environmental groups.

As explained in a November 13, Guardian article, under Canada's current trajectory, emissions were projected to be 734 mega tonnes – or 122 megatonnes higher than Canada's target of 612 tonnes under the international accord the country agreed in 2009. Canada had agreed at the time to align its climate plan with America's and cut emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. But Environment Canada in its latest report projected that the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 would amount to barely a 3% drop compared with the promised 17% cut. Greenhouse gas emissions from Bitumen production are expected to rise four-fold by the end of the decade, according to Environment Canada.

Canada's emphasis on exploiting Alberta's tar sands oil reserves are a major source of environmental degradation and a leading contributor to climate change. To make matters worse the tar sands have been shown to have a higher emissions profile than previously thought. If the Harper government has its way, the planned expansion of the tar sands will guarantee the worst impacts of climate change.

Canada not only has its own woeful environmental record it is also urging other countries to follow Australia's lead in disengaging on climate issues. In a formal statement, the Canadian government said it "applauds" the move by Australia this week to repeal a carbon tax on the country's 300 biggest polluters.

"Canada applauds the decision by prime minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian prime minister's decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message," the formal statement from Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said.

Canada is an environmental pariah on the international stage. At the recent COP 19 climate negotiations in Warsaw, Canada was one of the leading nations thwarting progress.

Both historically and currently Canada is a leading contributor to climate change. According to new research by Richard Heede, Canada has the third worst number of large-scale cumulative carbon producing companies in the world (after the US and the EU).

According to the Climate Change Performance Index, Canada is among the worst nations on the planet. The rankings are based on countries greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, emissions-reduction efforts, energy efficiency, renewable energy portfolios, and policies aimed at slowing climate change.

Canada ranks last when it comes to environmental protection according to the Washington-based Center for Global Development. Canada ranked 27th out of 27 in the environmental protection category. Canada was the only country on the list that did not make any progress. One of several reasons for the nation's abysmal performance is the fact that Canada has one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas production per capita.

Canada “has the dubious honor of being the only CDI country with an environment score which has gone down since we first calculated the CDI [in 2003],” the report said. “This reflects rising fossil fuel production and its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only treaty governing the emissions of heat-trapping gasses. Canada has dropped below the U.S. into bottom place on the environment component.”

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
The Tar Sands and IEA's Three Climate Change Scenarios
Scientists and Activists Hold US Press Conference on Conservatives' Tar Sands Agenda
Canada's Ruling Conservatives at War with Science
Canadian Conservatives Cut Research Funding but Spend on Fossil Fuel Pipeline
Taxpayers Money to Promote Fossil Fuels Brought to you by Canada's Ruling Federal Conservatives
Canadian Energy Espionage in Support of the Tar Sands
Video - The Tar Sands Give Canada the Worst Climate Record in the Western World
Canadian Implications of Obama's National Climate Strategy
Leading Canadian Economist to Tell Europeans about the Climate Impacts of the Tar Sands
Climate Scientists' Urge Canadian Minister to Back-off Expanded Fossil Fuel Production
Canada to Fight EU Proposal Labeling Tar Sands as Dirty
Canada's Ruling Conservatives Take Another Swipe at Environmental Protections
Canada at Odds with US and China on Climate Change
Report Urges Canada's Federal Conservatives to Regulate Oil and Gas Sector to Meet GHG Targets
Canadian Conservative Minister Attacks Climate Scientist
Canada is an Environmental Pariah at Rio+20
Canada's Ruling Conservatives are Trying to Silence American Scientists
Canadian Conservatives Silence Opposition to the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline
Canada is a Dirty Energy Superpower
Canada has the Dirtiest Oil on Earth (Video)

No comments: