Merkel presses Harper on climate change, he pushes on CETA

Maude vs Merkel
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow debated German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 Civil Society Dialogue in the lead-up to the G7 summit. Photo by World Future Council.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed the G7 as a bloc to agree to specific emission reduction targets prior to the United Nations climate summit in Paris this December. Merkel is seeking to get the G7 to commit to keep the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, in other words to agree to planetary survival.

Germany has pledged to cut emissions 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Reuters reports, "Merkel won support for her climate drive from French President Francois Hollande, who will host a U.N. summit on fighting climate change at the end of the year. Hollande was also looking for an ambitious G7 commitment to ending their dependence on fossil fuels by mid-century, and sought a financial commitment to help poorer countries transform their energy sectors so they can reduce carbon emissions. ...In a boost for Merkel's push to combat global warming, Japan said on Sunday it would favour the G7 countries setting their own target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. ...Japan and Canada were regarded before the summit as potential hold-outs on the climate issue, diplomats and environmental campaigners said. It was not clear if Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper would accept a specific G7 goal."

Politico adds, "Chancellor Angela Merkel faces resistance from Canada, which does not want the group to push the agenda on its own, and Japan, which is reluctant to phase out its use and support of coal both at home and abroad. ...Canada is not necessarily opposed to taking action against climate change, but believes it should be a global effort, rather than led by the G7, according to a source in Elmau."

The Harper government has set a target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 in advance of the Paris climate summit. If that were to be applied to the internationally accepted baseline, Harper's pledge actually equates to just 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. Harper has not set a 2050 target for this country, despite 35 years being a relatively short time frame for a national economy.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that, "In a written question, [European Union member state] Sweden pointed to Canada’s failure to reduce emissions from the oil sands and suggested that, while Ottawa has adopted regulations in other sectors, 'the focus on the oil sands extraction is low'." That article also highlighted, "The South African climate representative noted that Canada’s 2020 goal would leave its GHG levels higher than they were in 1990. ...The South African asked whether Canada would revise the target to increase its level of ambition; [Canada’s chief climate negotiator Louise] Metivier said Ottawa had no intention of making such a revision."

Instead of addressing climate change, Harper has instead used the G7 summit to advance his agenda of getting European Union member states to ratify the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the European Commission president and the European Council president are all present at the G7 summit.

The Globe and Mail reports, "The Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Harper raised the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in at least four meetings Sunday, including tête-à-têtes with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top European Union officials as well as the G7 group session on the global economy. He asked them to 'swiftly implement' the deal, the PMO said." The Canadian Press adds, "Harper met European Council President Donald Tusk, and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, where he was expected to push the deal."

With its investor-state dispute settlement provision that could be used to strike down laws that would ban fracking, impose water-taking restrictions on the Alberta tar sands, implement a moratorium on oil drilling in the North Sea, or local content rules for green energy projects, CETA would undoubtedly worsen climate change. The Harper government has already aggressively lobbied to weaken the European Fuel Quality Directive - threatening at one point to pull out of the CETA talks because of it - in order to allow the export of tar sands bitumen to Europe via various routes including the Energy East pipeline.

The Council of Canadians has stated that G7 summits should be scrapped and that global issues should instead be addressed in a democratic way by the G192, the United Nations. We will be calling for an end to 'free trade' deals like CETA and in favour of laws that end the abuse and displacement of water and meaningful greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at the time of the UN climate summit in Paris this coming November 30 to December 11.

Further reading
Harper at G7: Canada-EU trade agreement rapidly losing speed (June 2015 media release)
The price of free trade is unchecked climate change (September 2014 article by Naomi Klein)