Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Canada's unsurprising failure on climate change

I have a very small appetite for politics. A few House of Commons debates, interviews with politicians. Committee hearings, or policy reports and I feel full to the point of nausea.

As anyone who’s been reading this blog has likely noticed, what attention I give to politics, especially at the federal level, is largely devoted to critiquing the misguided and costly ‘tough-on-crime’ agenda that’s being undemocratically rammed through Parliament.

But I fear that in my bloated state I’m neglecting a bigger issue: our country’s failure to come to grips with climate change.

Last month, Parliament’s environment watchdog expressed concerns that Canada will not get its act together with regards to addressing climate change.

Not only is Canada failing to meet the Kyoto targets (anyone surprised?), but it is also dropping the ball on the Copenhagen accord and its own Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Scott Vaughan, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development said “the government's current climate change plan lacks the "tools and management systems needed to achieve, measure and report emission reductions." He added that the plan is made up of at least 35 different programs which are "disjointed, confused [and] non-transparent.”

It seems the only way our government is trying to meet greenhouse emission targets is by lowering not the emission but the goal. For example, they decided that instead of aiming to reduce emissions by 282 million tonnes since 2007, they’ll aim for 28 million.

And it seems that while the government is willing to spend billions of dollars on various ‘environmental’ programs, they don’t have any strategy in place to monitor or co-ordinate efforts.

And yet they’re rushing to push forward the Keystone XL pipeline, all the while not having clear information about how the Alberta oilsands are affecting the environment or what the impacts of the pipeline will be. They say they will do more monitoring, but that just buys them more time to continue to allow the oilsands to expand.

By the time my daughter is 10, climate change will likely cost our country billions of dollars. By the time she is my age, she will likely see increased health problems, soaring costs – but not likely any polar bears.

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