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Canada’s shameful record on climate action

Jeffrey Simpson’s opinion piece in the Globe and Mail today lays bare the shameful inaction of the Canadian government on climate change.

As described by Simpson, “Canada’s emissions record is the worst in the industrialized world, because since a previous government signed the Kyoto accord, the country’s emissions have grown by 27 per cent, instead of declining the promised 6 per cent. The latest government report has shown Canada’s emissions rising again after a slight decline in the previous two years.”

Simpson goes on to argue that both the Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to enact change.

“The Liberals’ record on this file while in office was appalling. Never forget this. But the Liberals’ dreadful record of empty rhetoric, failed plans and false targets does not excuse the Conservatives’ lame efforts since arriving in office…. Earlier this week, while other world leaders took the podium for a special United Nations session on climate change, he [Prime Minister Harper] preferred a meeting and photo opportunity with the mayor of New York. He did attend a private leaders’ dinner, but then rushed back to Canada for another of his patented economic “announcements” at a Tim Hortons facility.

Mr. Harper sent Environment Minister Jim Prentice to the UN, where he criticized the Chinese and Americans for not presenting carbon reduction targets, despite the fact that every expert in Canada (and many overseas) knows that Mr. Harper’s own government’s target – a 20-per-cent reduction by 2020 – cannot possibly be met under current policies….”

Note: The Canadian government’s use of a more recent carbon emission year – 2006 – as a baseline instead of the 1990 international standard, is misleading. This target only amounts to a 3 per cent  reduction below 1990 carbon emissions!

Simpson continues, “No, climate change is something Mr. Harper has been forced to tackle with the greatest reluctance. He was long a skeptic about the science, and he has always feared the economic fallout of serious action. Politically, he has calculated that action on climate change doesn’t have any upside for his party, since few voters associate the Conservatives with environmentalism. He certainly does not want to upset anyone in the fossil-fuel-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which are the core of his party’s political base. He wants his own reputation to be associated with economic management and lower taxes, not climate change. After all, those Tim Hortons voters are quite literally the bull’s eye of Conservative political ambitions, and they don’t seem terribly worried about climate change. So Mr. Harper isn’t going to spend an ounce of political capital being associated with the issue, or providing serious leadership at home and abroad.”

Read the full article at here
Canada’s record on climate action must change – we can all demand this change by calling on our MPs to support the Climate Change Accountability Act, and taking action on the Oct. 24 international day of climate action.

Use the Council of Canadians action alert to send a message to members of the Environment Committee to support the Climate Change Accountability Act here

Find out more about how you can participate in the Oct. 24 international day of climate action here