Thursday, September 20, 2007

APEC Summit thoughts

I was dismayed at our Prime Minister’s recent speech at the APEC Summit and hope that the residents of Langley share these thoughts. It was my sincere hope that the coming session of Parliament would see a government that was prepared to act on climate change, a government that is prepared to make the decisions that Canada needs and demands it to make, a government that sees the future of Canada as more important than the latest poll. What I hear is a Prime Minister that uses the international stage to play party politics, a government that will wait for important issues to settle themselves, and a party that fails to understand the gravity of the situation.

Let me explain my dismay with this speech.

In Mr. Harper’s speech he said “The weight of scientific evidence holds that our atmosphere is getting hotter, that human activity is a significant contributor, and that there will be serious consequences for all life on earth.” This is progress from his previous statements on “so-called” climate change.

However he immediately follows it up with a partisan attack, claiming that the previous government paid little more than lip service. I guess he has forgotten who signed the Kyoto Protocol and who chaired the Montreal conference on climate change, when he and his party were still denying the existence of global warming.

However this still gave me hope as maybe this was the beginning of an announcement for real action on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. We know Mr. Harper is an addict and can’t resist a party jab, but perhaps this was finally going to be some real action.

Alas no. Mr. Harper says he wants Canada to be a leader in Greenouse Gas Reductions, then says our emissions will not start to decline until 2010 at the earliest. By then, the UK’s emissions will be 12.5% below 1990 levels, not just flattening out. It doesn’t appear Canada will be a leader on reductions under his plans.

Mr. Harper says he wants to balance economic and environmental concerns when dealing with global warming. He says that “So, for the first time ever, Canada is now setting mandatory emission reduction targets for industries that produce greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Companies will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 18 percent per unit of production over the next three years.”

However this plan has no cap on the total emissions.

Mr. Harper says “They can buy emission credits from other Canadian firms that have beaten their targets.
Emissions trading is an important element of our government’s market-driven approach. It creates strong incentives for firms to go beyond their targets.”

However economists such as Don Drummond, Chief Economist at TD disagrees. “If regulations were not put in place to cap emissions, free reign on emissions would render the price of pollution equal to zero.”

It doesn’t appear Canada will be a leader on developing a global marketplace for Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Mr. Harper says he wants Canada to be a global leader in clean energy technology, then cites Clean Coal as an example.

“There is no such thing as clean coal.” Marilyn Berlin Snell, The Sierra Club.

“There is no such thing as clean coal.” Janice Nease, Executive Director, Coal River Mountain Watch.

“There is no such thing as clean coal.” Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program.

“There is no such thing as clean coal.” Jan Davis, president of the Hunter Environment Lobby group.

“There is no such thing as clean coal.” US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

It is dirty when it is mined, it is dirty when it is burned. It doesn’t appear Canada will be a leader in developing clean technology under Mr. Harper’s plan.

Mr. Harper finishes his speech by saying “We want to lead, not by lecturing, but by example,“

I think this is a great idea. When?

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