Even as Canada’s Western provinces and federal government war over expansion of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline, Canadian auditors general are working together on climate change. And, their first big pan-Canadian report today reveals the toothless gaps in Canadian climate vows.
Nearly a decade ago scrappy British writer George Monbiot caused an uproar by calling Canada “an urgent threat to world peace;” and describing “the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petrostate.”
Much has changed, including the 2015 election when Canadians elected a federal government that gives lip service to science and climate change. At the Paris climate summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triumphantly announced, “Canada is back.”
But since then all levels of Canadian governments, notoriously fractious, have worked at cross-purposes. A national carbon tax to reduce emissions is in the works, as at the same time new oil and gas projects fuel (temporary) jobs and (even more temporary) votes. And Canada’s overheated political climate and Winner-Take-All electoral system incinerates almost every proposal for change.
The climate impact of the political mess has now been measured by the AGs: “emissions in 2020 are expected to be nearly 20 percent above the target” reductions Canada promised to achieve, in the Copenhagen climate accord.
“No government in Canada has met all its climate change commitments,” Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, said as she presented the AG’s report to the federal Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in Ottawa today. Most governments that set “greenhouse gas reduction targets are not on track to meet them. And, no government is fully prepared to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
She cited some “good news:” Canada’s governments are “working” on climate change, “agree” that climate change “is an important issue” and are “committed to taking significant action.”
In the petro-state version of Canada, the one tarred and feathered by Monbiot, even such words amount to good news. But given the evidence of past Canadian promises of action, those words will last as long as a snowball in the heating Arctic.
Gelfand noted Canada has a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. She added that most provincial governments have not acted on it, and “the federal government did not yet know how it would measure each territory and province’s contribution.”
Other than words and faces, what has changed since Monbiot’s searing indictment of Canada as a hostage to “tar barons … turning this lovely country into a cruel and thuggish place”?
Choice readings, etc.
Copenhagen Accord, Wikipedia
The Urgent Threat to World Peace is … Canada, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, 2009
Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris, New York Times, Dec., 2015