Friday, December 14, 2007

I Couldn't Agree More

Below is an article that appeared in the Owen Sound
Sun Times.

Tories leading us to climate disaster
Posted 1 day ago

Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls the tune. His ministers dance. His
back-bench MPs? It's hard to imagine them having much say about anything, at
any time.

But perhaps the current Conservative caucus - including Bruce-Grey-Owen
Sound MP Larry Miller - will begin to speak with a louder voice, now that
their jobs are all at risk.

For that is precisely the case. The Harper government's intransigence at the
UN climate-change conference in Bali this week is striking. It puts the
Conservatives on a collision course with Canadian public opinion, on the
most important issue of our time. It hands the opposition parties a lever
that, if handled skillfully, could topple this government.

Here's what's happening in Bali, in a nutshell. European nations are
pressing hard for a commitment to binding, greenhouse-gas emissions cuts of
between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020. Canada, the United States and Japan are
resisting that effort. Canada used to bill itself internationally as an
environmental do-gooder. No longer. Nowadays, we wear the black hats.

Why are we playing this role? Harper's environment minister, John Baird,
says it makes no sense for anyone to cut emissions until the world's biggest
economies - the United States, China, India, to name three - do so as well.
Harper and company want a binding global climate-change deal, they claim,
but one that's fair.

This doesn't hold up, for this reason: The Tory government is doing little
or nothing, within our own borders, to combat climate change. This country
could be leaping ahead, technologically. Instead, we're taking baby steps
for the cameras. A bit of money here, a bit of money there, a photo op, a
speech. But major, concrete action? No.

There is no federal consumer carbon tax to make it more expensive for
urbanites to buy those big, gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. There is no
ambitious federal plan to induce consumers to hybridize their vehicles.

There is no project to build large, industrial wind farms on the Great Lakes
(as the British, for example, are doing now off their coasts).

There is no plan to build a fast, modern train for the Montreal-to-Windsor
corridor, a train that could be designed to carry the massive numbers of
transport containers now being hauled by trucks.

There is no great national project to build a series of newer, more
effective nuclear power plants.

In short, there is no leadership in Canada on this file. Therefore, we have
no moral or political authority to preach solutions to anyone, anywhere.
We're among the wealthiest people on earth, in relative terms, and we're not
taking climate change seriously. Why should the Indians and the Chinese do
so, when they're still struggling to pull hundreds of millions of people out
of poverty?

Here's what might achieve results: Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan,
Australia, acting in concert, agree to slash emissions by 40 per cent by
2020. We then exert moral, and economic pressure on the Chinese and the
Indians to do the same. As a sweetener we offer them access to our own
mass-produced, efficient, clean-energy technology - cars, generating
stations, wind turbines. Yes, that might work. But thanks to Stephen Harper
and his government, it looks as though we're not about to find out. So far,
Canada's obstructionist role at Bali has been critical: We've provided
political cover for the United States to continue to resist any global move
forward. The Chinese and the Indians will in turn, use that to justify their
own stands. And around we go. Without strong pressure from government,
industry has little incentive to mass-produce Green power. So we will
continue to stumble toward disaster - not for ourselves, so much as for our
children and grandchildren.

John Baird's performance at Bali has been worse than shameful. Every single
Conservative Member of Parliament should be made to answer for it.

1 comment:

RuralSandi said...

The same editorial appeared in my local newspaper (I live in rural Ontario - Northumberland County.

Sun Media just recently took over our local newspaper as it has many others.

I'm glad to see that Sun hasn't forced our editors (so far) to side with the Conservatives.

This means that many rural areas will be reading this viewpoint. Good, good, good.