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Canada worst in the G8 on climate change goals

December 7 marks the start of a two week long negotiation session in Copenhagento hammer out new international emissions reductions targets when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. So where does Canada stand in advance of these talks? Weve got the worst record when it comes to climate change in the G8, according to a reportfrom the World Wildlife Fund and global insurance company Allianz.
The annual report grades each G8 country on the progress made on mitigating climate change, and asserts that emissions need to be reduced by more than 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. That would keep the average global temperature from rising more than 2C each year and avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Action in all countries is by far insufficient to meet that goal, but the report, ironically released on Canada Day, contends our nation has done the least out of its peers. We’re chastised for bailing on our agreements under the Kyoto Protocolemissions are now 26.2% higher than the base year of 1990and the federal government is attacked for failing to implement its 2007 Turning the Corner climate plan.
Canada scored positively on only one of the 13 indicators used in the report. Canada releases the lowest amount of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, thanks to the countrys large supply of hydropower. Even so, weve got the highest emissions per capita of any G8 country after the U.S., at 24 tonnes of CO2 per person.
Meanwhile, former British Chief Scientific Advisor David King told an audienceof science journalists in London that Copenhagen is faltering at the moment because some countries are refusing to play ball. Chief among them are Canada and Japan, according to King, who said both nations had recently gotten rid of their scientific advisers and are stepping into the breach and blocking progress.
On the domestic front, there is currently a bill in the works ( Bill C-311) to reduce Canadas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. An earlier version of the bill already passed the House last year but didnt quite make it through the Senate before the federal election was called.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development finally resumed discussionof it on June 18. Some MPs rightly want the economic impact of the bill to be assessed before it’s presented to the House for a vote. Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth berated Bruce Hyer of the NDP (who drafted the bill) during the last committee meeting for not having assessed the potential costs. Another Conservative MP sent a request in April to Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to conduct a full cost analysis of bill, but the Hill Timesreported he was unable to do so because his small shop is strained for funding. (Page is dealing with his own problemsat the moment.)
But while Canada needs a clear position on its climate change goals in advance of the Copenhagen talks in December, the committee deferred further discussion of the bill until Parliament resumes in September, leaving a short window of time. This bill is being given short shrift and has been put at the bottom of the pile, complained Linda Duncan of the NDP during the standing committee meeting. Instead of completing a review by now, we are only going to start it in September.
Bloc Quebecois MP Bernard Bigras echoed her concern. We cannot study climate change forever and ever amen; the climate change conference is taking place in December. The negotiators need a clear message from the Standing Committee, he said. The longer the study of Bill C-311 drags on, the less clear the mandate will be that the government will have to come up with.
But targets are just a start, and theyre largely symbolic. If theyre not met, as in the case of Canada and the Kyoto Protocol, well, that appears to be no biggie, given the doddling of federal politicians on the issue. At the same time, emissions continue to rise and businesses have little clarity on how best to adapt their operations to a newly CO2-averse world. More important is a coherent plan for how to meet those targets, and that hasnt been presented by any Canadian political party. Until that time, well likely languish at the bottom of the G8 when it comes to climate change.