Monday, June 4, 2007

Climate Change: Canadian Arrogance on the Agenda

On Wednesday, Canada's Prime Minister will take part to the G8 summit in Heilingendamm, a city in the North of Germany. Moreover, climate change will be on the agenda. Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, affirmed that members of the G8 are to reduce 50% of their greenhouse gas levels by 2050 while using 1990 as the baseline. Before he said that Canada is not in a good position to suscribe to Merkel's vision, Stephen Harper admitted that Canada can be a role model for countries like India, China and the USA.

Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, in Germany.
Harper spent his time blaming the Liberals for not doing anything while it was them who signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol! After all, the leader of the Conservative Party is not necessarily wrong when he blames the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC). Nonetheless, that doesn't give a reason for Harper to take people for idiots. He also has his share of responsibility in the pollution of Canada. In short, Canada has no lessons to give to other countries in environment.

While the Kyoto Protocol was ratified by Canada in 1998 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the Liberals' mandate concerning environment was all talks but no bangs. What did the Liberals do to fight climate changes? Not much! In fact, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions reached an estimated 758 million megatonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2004, which is 27% up from the levels of 1990! All in all, if we stay in the circle of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada's environmental record (speaking about the increase of greenhouse gas emissions) can be put next to that of Australia (+25%), Greece (+27%), Portugal (+41%) and Spain (+49%).

While some Liberals are so good in presenting themselves as the clerics who wish to follow the Kyoto Protocol, it seems that some of them tend to forget that their governments did nothing. In fact many of them, especially Pablo Rodriguez, should remember that Canada’s 2004 emissions of greenhouse gas were 34,6% above the target to be achieved in the period of 2008 to 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, which means 563 million megatonnes. This is due to the lack of national regulations.

As for Stephen Harper, he shouldn't think that his environmental record is more impressive. In fact, after his election, Canada's exportation of oil towards the USA increased. Furthermore, the exploitation of oil sands in the region of Cold Lake, Peace River and Athasbasca (three regions of Alberta) also increased. I also don't need to tell you how polluting is the exploitation of oil sands. Obviously, Stephen Harper's target in his fight against climate changes is smog. However, by 2010, Canada's emissions of greenhouse gas will be 47% higher than its legal objective if he keeps doing what he actually does.

What must be understood is that Canada's visible difficulty to fight climate change is rooted into its dynamic economy. Indeed, our economy depends a lot on natural resources. Now, it's good to see that our country is getting rich thanks to our natural resources. However, the downside of such an economic benefit is the pollution that it creates. What needs to be done?

Since Canadian politics is a bipartisan game of finger pointing played between the LPC and the Conservative Party, I don't expect some solutions to be brought forward in the House of Commons. The challenge that Canada will face is going to consist into juggling at the same time with the fight against climate changes and also with making profits with our natural resources in an environment-friendly way.

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