Canadian Climate Plan: All Public Relations; No Policy

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The Canadian government’s climate plan is pure politics – pure public relations. It’s all hot air, with no regulation or legislation to back it up. The government is not passing laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is not setting science-based targets and it’s not financing renewable energy.

And now we learn that the governing Conservative Party has been contemplating a rollback in the inadequate emission regulations that they have advertised but never enforced. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Environment Minister Jim Prentice appear to be fiddling while their friends and political supporters in the tar sands capitals of Alberta set fire to Rome.

Canada has already earned international humiliation in Copenhagen as a country that is lobbying AGAINST a reasonable agreement. It is fighting to trash the Kyoto accord, regardless that no legally binding alternative is in place. It is one of only only two parties to the Protocol that is fighting against using a common base year (1990) that would make its stated emission limits transparent.

The government of Canada appears to resist doing the right thing, regardless that 75% of the people of Canada say they are embarrassed by their international reputation as backsliders. And on a day when UK Environment Secretary Hillary Benn was talking about climate change related ocean acidification as an “underwater time bomb,” Canadian Environment Minister Prentice was blaming a Copenhagen climate summit walkout by G77 countries for dragging down the talks.

For a demonstration of the inadequacy of Canada’s position, it’s hard to beat the stunt that the Yes Men pulled on Canada yesterday. The Yes Men put out a news release saying that Canada, which has been proposing a three-per-cent emission cut from 1990 levels by 2020, had come to its senses and was now going to work toward a 40 per cent cut – a goal that is in the range of what scientists say is necessary if we are to avoid dangerous warming of more than two degrees over pre-industrial levels. But Canadian reporters immediately recognized the news release as a hoax. They just couldn’t believe that Canada would do what the Northern European countries have already committed to do.

So, it’s a joke that Canada would do the right thing. And here we have one of the richest, most privileged countries on earth, continuing to argue that what it is doing is enough, that it is “working constructively.”

It is, once again, an international humiliation.

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