An Environment Canada report recently published in Geophysical Research Letters confirms that Canada’s lack of action on climate change is likely going to mean an inevitable 2 degrees Celsius of warming projected by 2100. The report, entitled Carbon emission limits required to satisfy future representative concentration pathways of greenhouse gases, suggests that Canada must “ramp down to zero [carbon emissions] immediately” to avoid a 2 degree Celsius rise in worldwide temperature.
That will be nearly impossible, since current Canadian leadership still has no climate policy in place to deliver on such an uncompromising action plan. The Vancouver Sun notes some of the consequences of inaction: “Allowing temperatures to climb more than 2 C could wipe out thousands of species, melt Arctic ice and trigger a rise in sea level of several metres.”
Environment Canada’s latest study confirms that Stephen Harper and other leaders have not honored their international commitments to avoid the dangerous climate disruption that will ensue with 2 degrees C or more of rising temperatures. Unfortunately, the Harper government remains a master at climate change inaction.
Since Canada is one of the biggest perpetrators of global warming pollution, it seems almost laughable that the government does not have an effective climate policy in place. The Conservative party has agreed internationally to take action to limit global warming below the 2 C threshold, however they continue to promote expanding the use and export of Canadian oil and coal.
Climate change does not recognize political borders – no matter where dirty energy is combusted, the emissions will negatively affect the global climate – so Canada is not doing itself or anyone any favors by simply shipping the dirty oil and coal elsewhere.
The report notes that CO2 emissions must “start decreasing immediately and that emission must become negative by roughly 2060 and remain so” in order to deter the worst effects of climate change. But that is easier said than done when the Canadian government continues to ignore its responsibility to future generations and instead touts hollow political rhetoric as evidence of action.
As University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver told the Vancouver Sun, “If we want to deal with this problem, we have to start transforming our energy systems now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, now. That means we should be weaning ourselves from our dependency on oil, not trying to expand it as fast as possible.”
So far during the Harper administration, Canada’s climate ‘action’ plan has involved hefty doses of misleading PR and empty promises, not an actual emissions reduction strategy. That all has to change immediately, no matter who wins the upcoming election. Canada can no longer ignore its role as a major contributor to the problem, or shirk its responsibility to lead the world to a zero-emissions future.
With the health and quality of life for future generations hanging in the balance, not to mention the Canadian economy, our leaders owe it to the public to stop dithering and start ratcheting down our pollution immediately.
**These are my personal views as Co-Founder of DeSmogBlog and do not reflect, in any part, the views of Hoggan & Associates.**