Canada’s Climate Changes
By: Suzanne Elston
The Canadian delegation at the current climate change talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, has made it abundantly clear that the Harper government will not honor our commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. What makes this even worse is that Canada is currently chairing the two-week long session that is simultaneously looking at both the1994 UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (which was supported by 189 countries) and the 1997 Protocol, which was designed to strengthen the Convention with legally binding targets.
It is important to note that less than twenty years ago, Canada led the world at the 1987 Changing Atmosphere Conference in Montreal. It was at this conference that the international community recognized that human activity was threatening to destroy the ozone layer. With Canada’s leadership, a consensus was reached to eliminate ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons. The result was nothing short of miraculous. Despite the industry’s opposition that it couldn’t be done, and that the economic costs would be devastating, we did it. Brilliantly. The result is that we averted a global catastrophe, our international economy is stronger than ever, and the hole is the ozone layer is showing signs of improvement. It should also be noted that it was a Conservative government that made this all happen.
How far our once visionary and courageous nation has fallen. From leading the world and making a difference, to misleading the world and making excuses. Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Environment Minister and chair of the Bonn talks said,
“Canada's position is that we support the two-year assessment period that is going to commence after the meetings in Bonn right now, and a number of countries are supporting that assessment period as well, and then we will, after that, decide whether or not we can make further [Kyoto] commitments.” Huh?
She added, “We have an excellent international negotiating team in Bonn right now, and they are acting in the best interests of Canada, and I have full confidence that they will do what's needed.”
Ms. Ambrose misses the point entirely. This isn’t about what’s in Canada’s best interests. This is the global community gathering together to reach a consensus on what we can do to stop (or at least slow down) the single greatest threat to life on this planet. International boundaries will be meaningless in the face of dramatic global climate change.
The process has already begun. With the worst hurricane season in history only months behind us, the forecast for this year is even worse. This week, climatologists have predicted that hurricanes of the 2006 season will increase in both frequency and severity, even beyond the magnitude of last year’s killers. The polar ice caps are melting at an unprecedented rate, and the weather is getting weirder almost everywhere you look. Last week while Western Canada basked in mid-summer temperatures, Eastern Ontario saw the mercury dip just above the freezing point, while at the same time, rainy old England was rationing water.
Meanwhile, back in Bonn, our leaders fumble while the world slowly burns. Perhaps someone should hand Ms. Ambrose a fiddle.
Earlier this month, the Harper government cancelled its support for the highly successful Energuide for Houses (EGH) program, including low-income housing support and the popular rebate program for residential homes. The EGH incentive program was one of the leading lights in Canada’s energy conservation strategy that rewarded individuals for voluntary leadership, supported community-based outreach and the development of a conservation industry. For more information, visit Green Communities Canada
To voice your opposition to Harper’s cancellation of the EGH program, or to voice your concern about Canada’s position on Kyoto, email the Prime Minister at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to send a copy to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose at Rona.Ambrose@ec.gc.ca
Fortunately, there are leaders who are willing to stick their necks out and be counted. Former US Vice-President Al Gore has embarked on a fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it. His journey is the subject of a new documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, that will be coming to theatres across North America in June. For more information, including screening dates and locations, visit An Inconvenient Truth.
When all else fails, batten down the hatches. May 21 – 27, 2006 is Hurricane Preparedness Week. For more information, visit US National Weather Service's Hurricane Center.