Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Canada's embrarassing climate change performance

I get a little bored with reporting on climate change developments, and it rarely provides an opportunity for edification or optimism, particularly here in Canada. But these people have to be called out, for what it's worth.
The Canadian government's own environment ministry is admitting in no uncertain terms that the country is falling well short of its own modest greenhouse gas pledge (to reduce GHGs by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020). Stephen Harper's pledge, made in Copenhagen five years ago, was for 611 megatonnes of GHG emissions by 2020. Current projections by Environment Canada suggest emissions of the order of 727 megatonnes are to be expected "unless new measures are taken" (and fat chance there is of THAT under the current government).
My home province of Ontario has managed to offset up to 50 megatonnes of GHGs by closing down its coal-fired power plants and investing in renewables (even if they have attracted much flak in the process), and British Columbia's carbon tax has single-handedly reduced their GHGs by 16% since 2008. The oil and gas sector, however, led of course by the Alberta oil sends, is fuelling a 45 megaton increase in GHGs. It's a sad state of affairs when we are relying on an economic downturn from the nose-diving price of oil as the only way to reduce such an increase.
Meanwhile, lame-duck environment minister Leona Aglukkaq reassures us that there are still six years left in which to meet the targets, to which the government remains committed. The very next day, she blusters: "Our record speaks for itself. We have show that it is possible to protect the environment while supporting economic growth." She is even planning on addressing the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Lima with a view to a post-2020 agreement!
Her boss, Mr. Harper, unapologetically asserts that, if it going to cost money, then the environment just has to wait: "Under the current circumstance of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy... We are clearly not going to do it". He then attempts to take credit for the progress made in the area of coal-fired electricity generation (actually due to the Ontario government).
Such audacity! Such a disconnect!

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