Canada and Kyoto

by Evs

I have been meaning to write about this since the news broke last week. But I guess I needed a bit of time to let the initial emotions (worry, frustration, slight hope – followed by anger) settle.

So the news is this, after a week of Climate Talks in Durban, a worldwide effort to come up with a real plan to manage climate change and try and slow down the rate of destruction, we learn 2 things:

1) a small win has been accomplished at these talks, that is bringing some emerging pollution giants to the table. Guidelines have been set to curb the rates of greenhouse gas emissions of China, Brazil and South Africa. China’s absence was the key reason that US avoided signing this agreement, and the excuse of other developed nations to not comply. And now China is showing a willingness to come to the table. For this I am happy. It also looks as though it has been decided that the new agreement replacing Kyoto, which is set to start be defined by 2015, is to be ratified by the mother of all polluters, the USA. It has been decided that this future treaty will be legally binding for all countries > unlike Kyoto, which was often ratified but not complied with.

2) There has been a huge Canada Fail. My country, the country that was for a long time known around the world for its progressive policies, its respect for science and its active and healthy participation in achieving world consensus has gone rogue. But not in the cool superhero way. In the dumb, twisted ideological “Sarah Palin”-style rogue. Let’s call it Idiot Rogue. Basically my countries has gone off its rocket.  Canada has decided to turn its back on its Kyoto commitment.

Thus the anger.

Of course, this is all done under the guise of some fantastical economic strategy to promote some yet unattained prosperity in the future, to “protect” Canada’s apparently very fragile economy from this “job-killing” agreement.

But it makes me want to ask a few hypotheticals: What future does the Harper gvt. actually envision?  Is it a future of increased wealth disparity or equality? Will we all be happily employed? Will every human being have the chance to enjoy clean water, clean air, and ecological stability in 20 years?

This government is brutally short-sighted, and its complete lack of foresight is practically blinding. How can they be so foolish. What is their end goal? I am to be honest baffled by the logic that the Harper gvt is using.  Do they want prosperity? Because their actions are flying in the face of reason, logic and even the most inane common sense.

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In one of my old university classes, we had an exercise where 5 groups were formed, and we played the role of various stakeholders in a hypothetical conflict.  In our case, the conflict was a territory that was going to be polluted by a large corporation and the stakeholders were: local citizens, the big polluting company, the government, the activists and the scientists. We had to work to find a compromise. The solution was not perfect, but at least we all participated. Canada is the second largest country in the world and has a large portion of the world’s most valuable natural resources, including water, and so it needs to be at the table when these solutions get decided. Not only for the environment, but also for the sake of Canada’s place in the world. By leaving the table, Canada has profoundly damaged its reputation and credibility in the international forum.

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On a last note, while this is somewhat anecdotal, since this decision, many of my non-canadian friends have voiced their surprise at how backwards Canada is acting in regards to the Climate discussions. Many had always held our country in a high regard and thought that it was a country with strong principles.

This is a very sad turn for Canada.

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