By Geoffrey York, Globe and Mail, November 14, 2011
Facing the danger of collapse in global climate negotiations, the host of the talks is making a hard-hitting appeal to the Harper government to abandon its opposition to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.
A top diplomat from South Africa, host of a crucial round of United Nations climate negotiations this month, is attacking Canada in highly undiplomatic language for its refusal to consider extending the international commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
As host, the South African government will preside over the climate negotiations at the seaside city of Durban, beginning on Nov. 28. It has been criticized for failing to act aggressively enough to cobble together a possible climate deal, but lately it has become more energetic, trying to prevent South Africa from becoming notorious as the burial ground for Kyoto.
With Kyoto set to expire at the end of next year, and with key countries such as Canada and the United States still refusing to contemplate any new binding agreement to replace it, South Africa is becoming increasingly desperate as it tries to find a compromise. Part of its new strategy is to target the Harper government, and remind it that Canada was one of Kyoto’s earliest supporters when it was negotiated in 1997.
“Are you going to follow the United States, are you also going to become a serial non-ratifier of any agreements?” asked Mohau Pheko, the South African high commissioner to Canada, in an unusually harsh criticism.
“Why take a moral high ground before, on the issue of the environment, and suddenly do an about-turn now?” she asked in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
“We can’t afford to sign on to UN conventions and, when we don’t like the toys that are inside there, start throwing out the toys that we don’t like.”
And this by Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, June 4, 2011
On Canadian soil, two world leaders have recently urged Canada to do more. Mexican President Felipe Calderon and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both made that pitch, implicitly criticizing Canada’s bad record. Their critiques are rooted in recent history, stretching back to the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. The critiques remain valid today, which is why Canada has no credibility whatsoever internationally on the climate-change file.
According to the government’s own numbers, actual emissions will grow in absolute terms in every year from 2009 to 2012. All the government’s many and expensive policies will have done is to slow the increase, and then only slightly – by 10 million tonnes in 2012, against countrywide emissions of more than 700 million tonnes. At this rate, Canada will not achieve even the Harper government’s modest reduction target: a 17-per-cent drop in absolute reductions by 2020 based on 2005 emissions, a softer target than the 20-per-cent drop the government had previously promised.
The numbers show how useless and expensive are some of the government’s policies. For example, Ottawa is going to throw $1.5-billion into biofuels, largely ethanol, over the next nine years without a significant decline in emissions, because, as is obvious, the biofuels program is an agricultural subsidy program rather than a serious measure against emissions.
Or how about the absurdity of the transit tax credit, announced in an election campaign as a climate-change-fighting program? That all-politics-all-the-time program is estimated to reduce emissions by just over a risible 3,000 tonnes. And then comes the big Clean Energy Fund and Clean Air and Climate Change Trust Fund, together worth $2.5-billion, which the government admits “are not expected to result in quantifiable reductions by 2012.”
Quite clearly, the name or country of origin of the diplomat calling Canada a miscreant with respect to environmental commitments, and reduction of emissions responsible for global warming, the Harper government has a "tin ear" and a very stubborn, arrogant and unsustainable position: It is opposed!
And the people of Canada are thereby relegated to the sidelines in all international conversations about the topic, such is the impact of the Harrper government's intransigence.
On this file, Canada has become an outlier country, a free-enterprise-cowboy who refuses any form of government interference on the issue, perhaps even going so far as to doubt the science that carbon emissions are, in fact, destroying the ozone and complicating the planet's capacity to sustain life as we know it.
Our history on the file is also one of missteps and misjudgements and potential leadership gone astray. After decades of leading the world's knowledge, through such voices as David Suzuki's, including his generation of public support for specific steps to begin to address the issue, Canada has been literally highjacked by the business-government cabal in a frontal refusal to accept the "costs" of any kind of environmental scrubbing program, with very few exceptions.
Hiding behind the George W. Bush government for eight years was merely a cover for inaction by the current government in Ottawa, not to mention the "failure to include India and China," (their words) as another smoke-screen behind which the country tried to hide.
Governments, like people, can and do always find reasons "NOT" to do what is right, and pointing to the "dollar cost" is one way to guarantee attention will be paid, especially in a country addicted to the balance sheet, except when the balance sheet might not agree with their ideological agenda (witness fighter jets and armed and unarmed ships).
Canadians can only hope the international outcry against our "head-in-the-sand" position on environmental protection continues to grow to the point where it is so embarrassing to the Harper neanderthals that they are forced to change their position. However, the rest of the world, and the Canadian citizenry ought not to hold our breath waiting for such a transformation. These are extremely self-righteous, even pompous public servants, who seem determined not to serve the greater interersts of the Canadian or the world's people, at least on this file.