Climate Action Day Remarks

2008-12-07

One year ago at the international climate talks in Bali; the Government of Canada thoroughly disgraced itself.

Together with the U.S., Canada was voted the “Colossal Fossil” at the conference of the parties for its consistent pattern of obstructing progress at the talks.

Canada refused to agree to take on deeper cuts in its carbon emissions until China and India agreed to cut their emissions.  This completely ignores the fact that on a per capita basis China and India release a small fraction of the carbon emissions that Canada does.

And 600 million Indians still do not have a single light bulb in their homes.

In Bali, Yvo de Boer the head of the UN Climate Negotiations and a careful diplomat went so far as to say that the Harper government doesn’t care about climate change.  

This year, the Harper government is once again disgracing Canada at the international climate talks taking place in Poznan, Poland.

Already Canada has won six “Fossil of the Day” awards by the international community.

Canada won one award for failing to support deep reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases. Reductions of at least 25-40% are needed by 2020, in order to avoid dangerous global warming that threatens most of the world’s plant and animal species.

Canada won another for arguing that Canada should get a break on its emissions targets, because the tar sands release a lot of carbon.

This lines up with Canada’s other diplomatic initiative—offering up a North American cap-and-trade system to President-elect Obama so long as tar sands emissions are excluded.  

Canada also insisted that rich countries should get special treatment for “welfare loss” – the “hardship” of using smaller cars, or public transit.
 
Canada picked up a third fossil of the day award, for arguing that Canada is 29% above its Kyoto target because it is cold and big. This argument ignores the fact that other cold countries such as Sweden have been able to meet their Kyoto targets.

On Saturday, Canada won yet another fossil award, this time for its hypocrisy in claiming that it generously supports wind energy.

This is just not true.  Canada has failed to renew its modest support for wind power, which risks leaving millions of dollars of potential investment stranded.

Meanwhile, nuclear power receives hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies every year for the federal government, and carbon capture and storage technologies are getting $ 2 billion from the government of Alberta.

What should Canada be doing?

First, we need to join the international community and commit to Kyoto Plus—deep carbon emissions reduction targets of 25% by 2020, and 90% by 2050.

Second, we need to ensure that the proposed federal infrastructure program is as green as it can be.  There should be no money spent on new roads or hockey arenas.

The money should be spent on ensuring that every Canadian lives in a comfortable, energy-efficient home.  The government could do this by ramping up financial support for energy-efficiency renovations in single-family homes and apartment buildings across Canada.

This will create thousands of green jobs for workers and entrepreneurs in the communities where they live—not in Fort McMurray thousands of kilometres away from their friends and families.

The money should be spent on ramping up public transit systems such as Ottawa’s light rail, as well as creating green jobs in the manufacturing plants that build the buses and trains for these systems. 

And any money spent on the auto industry should be limited to assisting the industry build greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles. 

Finally we need serious government support for renewable forms of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

Let’s make sure that Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice know that Canadians expect them to get their heads out of the tar sands and make a Canada a green leader in the world. 

   

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