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Canadian government earns yet another fossil award for blocking progress towards an international agreement on climate change

Canada received first place for today’s Fossil of the Day award presented by Climate Action Network.

As described in the announcement:

“The day’s fossil award goes to Canada for blocking agreement on using 1990 as the base year. Canada is now the only country more focused on finding creative ways to hide their emission increases and make their weak targets look ambitious than solving the climate crisis. Unfortunately, those emissions linger in the atmosphere much longer than Canada’s embarrassment about them.”

The Canadian government continues to insist on using 2006 as a baseline year. Using 2006 as a baseline year allows our government to mask it’s poor emission reduction targets.

The Harper government’s plan is to reduce emissions 20 per cent by 2020.  When you use 1990 as a baseline year – the baseline year used in the Kyoto Protocol – this target amounts to a mere 3 per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020.

This is an embarrassment.

Science based emission reduction targets are an important first step for meaningful climate action.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends emission reduction targets of at least 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels on the part of Global North countries.

More recently, leading scientists are saying the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere demands even deeper reductions of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels on the part of Global North countries.

Understanding the 350ppm target:

  • 350ppm is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in “Parts Per Million” in our atmosphere. 350 ppm is the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.
  • Pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide was 280 parts per million ppm
  • Today the concentration is 389 ppm

Canada’s targets are far off track with what science is telling us is necessary to avert runaway climate change.

Canada is also lagging behind when it comes to supporting international mitigation and adaption efforts (see earlier blog entry: Climate negotiations in Bangkok continue on disappointing course). Global North countries, which represent less than one-fifth of the world’s population, are responsible for almost three-quarters of all historic emissions.

The only solution to climate change is a just solution.

In addition to requiring greater responsibility to reduce emissions and finance climate mitigation and adaption on the part of Global North countries, climate justice demands that root causes of out-of-control climate change including corporate-driven globalization and free market policies that promote unsustainable production, consumption and trade, be addressed.

In Canada, our governments must commit to a plan that transitions us to a low carbon future. This includes committing to science-based targets for emission reductions, improving energy conservation and efficiency, providing the rapid expansion of public transit and renewable power, and creating Just Transition programs for workers and impacted communities.

The world needs decisive, tough action on climate change coming out of Copenhagen this December. Canada needs to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We need a global deal that leads to real emission reductions. It must be fair and equitable, including stronger commitments and actions by the Global North.

Take action:

Join the October 24 International Day of Climate Action. Find out more at 350.org and how the Council of Canadians is participating, here

Watch the KYOTOplus video here

Sign the KYOTOplus petition and encourage others to sign here

Send an email to Environment Committee members to support the swift passage of the Climate Change Accountability act here