Opinion – Canada unsurprisingly receives another climate “award”

By: Chris Burke

Today’s sad, but unsurprising news, is the announcement that Canada was ranked as the worst performer in the developed world on climate change.

Canada won a sad distinction today, falling to 58th place out of 61 countries analyzed for their policies and action on climate change this year, trailed only by Kazakhstan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, according to Climate Action Network Canada (CANC) (Vancouver Observer).

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Following years of the Harper government’s efforts to ensure that Canada poses an obstacle to international climate talks, setting of dismal emission reduction targets that are unlikely to be reached anyway, and continued support for the environmentally destructive tar sands; this ranking should come as no surprise though it should come with a great deal of shame.

The current government is more focused on raising the spectre of a carbon tax, accusing the NDP of wanting to implement one, than it is on finding real solutions to the climate change problem.  The carbon tax accusation is a lie, and a distracting one at that.  It takes attention away from the current, failing approach of an industry-by-industry regulatory scheme that it is not on track to meet its targets.  No longer is the government committed to an approach based on science.  It will continue to support the oil and gas industry, the most emissions-intensive industry in the world.

Environment Canada reports show that the government does not have the policies in place necessary to meet their current goals, which have been widely criticized for being among the weakest in the industrialized world. Canada was the only country to weaken its climate target under the Copenhagen Accord and has since become the only country to withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. This indifference and inaction in the face of global climate change has drawn sharp criticism from leaders around the world.

The report comes as Ministers and high-level officials arrive in Doha, Qatar for the conclusion of this year’s United Nations climate change conference. Canada has also been singled out at these negotiations for failing to live up to commitments to support poorer countries as they adapt to a problem they did nothing to create (Vancouver Observer).

Canada currently sits on the world stage as an antagonist; a country that places industry above the environment and people.  If the country continues down this path, then history will regard it as one of the prime culprits when the environmental crisis hits.  The country will be remembered not only for inaction, but actions that made the situation worse.

How can we prevent this future?  I don’t think it’s as simple as electing a different government.  Sure, the NDP would be an improvement (sorry Liberals, you just don’t count right now) but not by much.  The NDP proposes a cap-and-trade system, but those systems don’t work.  Further, they are not actually opposed to the tar sands, just on how the economic benefits and costs are currently distributed.

We must play our part in ensuring a sustainable world for future generations, and it needs to start with a challenge to the status quo.  No more tolerating non-solutions to the climate change problem, no more acceptance for the destructive oil and gas industry.  Those feeling ashamed by the current situation have a duty to do something about it, starting now.

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