Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada's Failed Climate Leadership is also an Economic Disaster

While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling Conservatives love to taut their economic achievements, however their failed climate leadership is destined to impoverish the nation economically. 

Canada's Decarbonization Pledge from the ruling Conservatives is both inadequate and unachievable. Canada has announced that it will reduce emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is below the emissions reduction pledges of other industrialized nations. This will mean that other nation's will have to cut emissions more deeply if we are to succeed in keeping temperatures below the 2 degrees Celsius upper threshold limit.

According to the NewClimate Institute Canada's emissions target received the lowest rating possible. They further report that Canada is unlikely to achieve these modest emissions reductions.

At the same time as the G7 agree to historic climate pledges including the elimination fossil fuels, Harper's Conservatives are planning to increase their exploitation of the tar sands. The tar sands are currently responsible for 9 percent of the nation's total emissions and this is expected to increase to 14 percent by 2020.

Canada's strategy is largely dependent on forestry climate credits to offset the emissions from the tar sands which have increased by 79 percent since 2005. With 10 percent of the world's forests Canada has an estimated 63 megatonnes of carbon equivalents to play with.

In June 2011 the newly elected Harper government announced that it would reject the Kyoto Protocol. Then in December of the same year Canada officially withdrew from the Protocol. This provides the ruling Conservatives with latitude in the ways it can achieve its climate targets including forestry credits. If we take these forestry credits out of the equation Canada's emissions are expected to increase by 8 percent by 2030.

Under the leadership of Harper's Conservatives Canada has passed no meaningful climate legislation. In fact Canada has amassed a lamentable rap-sheet of environmental offenses. The federal government has failed to provide support for the low carbon economy that is providing jobs and positioning economies to prosper in the post fossil fuel era. This is born out in a report by Clean Energy Canada.

From muzzling its own scientists to curtailing dissent, Harper's Conservatives have systematically dismantled the environmental infrastructure that once made Canada the envy of the world.  Harper has made Canada a fossil fuel superpower. The nation's reliance on the tar sands is at the center of an irresponsible energy strategy that make Canada one of the world's worst climate laggards. It also makes Canada reliant on a form of energy that has no place in a rapidly emerging low carbon economy.

In its haste to extract every petro-dollar it can, the current Canadian federal government ignores the facts about the global carbon budget, unburnable carbon, concerns about a carbon bubble and stranded assets. Harper's Conservatives appear to be oblivious to the fact that fossil fuels will be replaced by renewables.

There are economic costs associated with Canada's fossil fuel obsession, as well as costs associated with the nation's failure to support renewables. The Conservatives all but ignore expanding Canada's renewable energy capabilities. As revealed in a recent report, Canada could get all of its electricity from renewables.

Canada's Conservatives have failed to live up to global standards on emissions reduction and missed an opportunity to reap the economic benefits associated with efficiency and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy.  Generations to come will suffer the consequences of Harper's love of fossil fuels and climate intransigence. 

For more information on the Canadian government click here

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