Skip to content

VIEW: ‘Canada’s climate change position stalled’, says Simpson

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson writes today that, “Having ceded important parts of Canada’s climate-change policies to the United States – or, to put matters more mildly, having decided to wait on the United States – the Harper government can hardly take a lead in North America on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.”

“The Harper government has said it will propose a cap-and-trade system for industrial emissions.”

(The Toronto Star reported on September 7 that, “Though plans are described as a work in progress, numerous accounts say the Conservatives intend to put a cap on the emissions from Ontario’s manufacturing sector and other polluting industries across Canada, while letting oil and gas companies meet less stringent intensity targets which allow output, and pollution, to increase.”)

“What remains unclear – Canadian officials say the government is considering all options – is whether Canada’s system would be parallel to what emerges from the U.S., whether it might be integrated with the U.S. system, or whether it might even be enlarged to include Mexico.”

“With climate-change talks resuming in Copenhagen in December, the U.S. remains a long way from developing a coherent position – which means Canada is stalled, too.”

“This week, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, conceded that climate change might have to wait until 2010 – that is, until after the Copenhagen negotiations.”

“The reduction targets set by the House (of Representatives) committee are almost certainly steeper than what the Senate will accept, so the eventual U.S. target will almost certainly be less than the Harper government’s stated goal of a 20-per-cent reduction by 2020 – a goal, by the way, that almost no expert outside government believes can be met by the government’s approach.”

“If the U.S. target is lower than Canada’s, will the Harper government weaken ours?”

Council of Canadians energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has written, “Our government must commit to a plan that transitions Canada to a low carbon future. This includes committing to science based targets for emission reductions, significant investments in improving energy conservation and efficiency, the rapid expansion of public transit and renewable power, Just Transition programmes for workers and impacted communities, rejecting the free market model for energy developments that see profits placed ahead of social and environmental interests – which includes rejecting the energy provisions and Chapter 11 of NAFTA and a plan to achieve a tar sands free future.”

Andrea adds, “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 placing a greater and just burden on the Global North.”

As a member of Kyotoplus, the Council of Canadians is encouraging concerned Canadians to sign the “Kyotoplus: climate action now!” petition. To add your name, please go to

We are also hoping that Council activists and supporters will participate in the October 24 international day of climate action. For more details, go to

Andrea’s energy campaign blogs can be read at

Please also note that Andrea will be attending on our behalf the United Nations Framework on Climate Change meeting to be held in Copenhagen, December 7-18.

Jeffrey Simpson’s column is at