It should be clear to all political leaders and parties that the interests of a stable economy and environmental sustainability are inextricably tied.
The costs of inaction on climate change has been compared to a 5 to 20% loss of world GDP. Failing to plan for a transition off of fossil fuels is also foolhardy, faced with ‘peak oil’ – the depletion of conventional energy resources. While the transformation to our economies and societies demanded by the climate crises is substantial, there are great benefits and potential for investing now in green jobs, including job creation at higher levels than investing in fossil fuel sectors.
According to a recent poll, Canadians understand this.
So how does Canada fare compared to Germany, Italy, Japan, U.K., U.S. and France when it comes to the environment?
Let’s take the example of emission reduction targets (the following targets are based on submissions made to the Copenhagen Accord). It is noteworthy that while emission reduction targets are an important indicator of government’s commitment to address the climate crisis, they certainly do not provide a full picture – they can and are being undermined by the use of carbon offsets (a key reason why the Council of Canadians speaks out against carbon markets and the use of offsets).
Canada: 17% emission reduction by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Using the standard 1990 baseline year, this equates to a 2.5% rise by 2020.
Japan: 25% emission reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
EU: 20% emission reduction by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The EU also has a conditional offer to increase this to 30% if other developed countries commit to comparable reductions along with adequate commitments from developing countries. Germany and the U.K. have both indicated that more could be possible, Germany suggesting a 40% cut and the U.K. up to a 32% cut.
Clearly, our country lags far behind. Canada’s one companion of the G7 group in this regard is the U.S. In fact, Canada changed (as in worsened) its emission reduction target to match the target submitted to the Copenhagen Accord by the U.S. It is also now clear that our government does not even have sufficient plans to meet our weak target.
With an election coming up, the Harper government’s failure to even come close to what is needed in terms of emission reduction commitments and investments in energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy, while continuing to support and lobby for the fossil fuel industry, needs to be exposed.