Will Canada Continue to Fail on Climate at International Talks in Poland?

Will Canada Continue to Fail on Climate at International Talks in Poland?
on

With another round of international climate negotiations opening this week in Warsaw, Poland, and a new poll finding Canadians wanting leadership on the issue, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have an opportunity to turn the tides on what has been so far a policy trend in the wrong direction.

Since taking the helm, the majority Harper government has floundered at United Nations climate events, relegating Canada to perpetual fossil of the day and year awards.

As someone who has been working in and around these international climate talks and other such global negotiations for many years now, I have witnessed first hand Canada’s fall from grace. Our small country (population-wise) has historically hit well above its weight in many international forums, with a reputation for neutrality and expert diplomacy. Now, we are called a “petrostate” and a “climate obstructionist” at such talks. 

Canada has previously been a international leader on global efforts to battle environmental issues. Former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was an outspoken global leader on reducing Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere and his leadership culminated in the Montreal Accord that saw 191 countries agree to phasing out ozone depleting chemicals.

Under Jean Chretien and the Liberals Canada was one of the first countries to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global climate change pollution, with many countries following our lead. Canada’s lack of performance, and in many cases outright opposition to deals on climate change, is not only being noticed by the international community, it is also starting to be noticed at home.

A poll out late last week finds that a large majority – almost 60 percent – of Canadians agree that climate change should be a top issue for the Harper government. A whopping 76 percent say that Canada should sign on to a new international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond the evidence of the poll, a cross-country day of events planned for Canada called “Defend our Climate, Defend our Communities” suggests the country’s lack of climate leadership is having its effect on the street level. 

Everyday people are hoping to rejuvenate Canada’s international reputation on the issue of climate change.

And the need for this has never been more urgent as more and more extreme weather events make headlines across the globe. The atmospheric disruption and extreme weather scientists talked about almost 20 years ago when Canada signed on to the Kyoto Protocol is now “the new normal.”

With climate talks starting this week and next in Warsaw, Harper and his new environment minister, Leona Aglukaqq, have an opportunity to redeem Canada’s reputation. Not only would this start the country on the right path when it comes to climate change, but according to public opinion polls, a strong stance on climate by Harper would be good politics.

So what’s stopping him?

Image Credit: Kris Krug via Flickr

Will Canada Continue to Fail on Climate at International Talks in Poland?

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

Related Posts

on

New analysis sheds light on key tactics Monsanto used to distort science and spin the narrative in defense of its herbicide product.

New analysis sheds light on key tactics Monsanto used to distort science and spin the narrative in defense of its herbicide product.
on

Campaigners warn Brussels is poised to water down — or fatally delay — bold pesticide reduction targets.

Campaigners warn Brussels is poised to water down — or fatally delay — bold pesticide reduction targets.
on

TC Energy’s upgrade of its GTN XPress pipeline would result in a huge increase in methane gas volumes to the region. But it would undermine climate laws already on the books.

TC Energy’s upgrade of its GTN XPress pipeline would result in a huge increase in methane gas volumes to the region. But it would undermine climate laws already on the books.
Analysis
on

After a decade of losing hundreds of billions of dollars, the shale oil industry is finally making money — and running out of oil.

After a decade of losing hundreds of billions of dollars, the shale oil industry is finally making money — and running out of oil.