Jim Prentice, Canada’s Environment Minister, lands in the US capital today as part of the Conservative government’s attempt to ride on Obama’s green coattails on climate change.
But he won’t get too far with the George W. Bush playbook on climate change he’ll be trying to sell the Obama administration.
The problem for Canada and the Harper government is that President Obama is actually planning to do something significant about the issue of climate change, while Canada’s Conservatives continue to spend their time trying to spin a plan that will see their country’s emissions continue to rise.
The Globe and Mail rightly points out this morning that during Obama’s visit to Canada two weeks ago:
“The President gave no indication during his trip to Canada that he was enthusiastic about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s idea for a bilateral agreement on climate change.”
No kidding. Obama and his team see right through Canada’s weak, ineffectual plan. After all it’s pretty much the plan set out by former President George W. Bush.
But for those in Washington who aren’t savvy to the Canadian plan, here’s a quick rundown of the Conservative government’s “spin-tionary” on climate change:
What they say:
The Canadian government says its committed to an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2020.
The Canadian government uses 2006 levels as the benchmark for reductions, instead of 1990 which is the internationally recognized benchmark for greenhouse gas emission reductions - and the one used by the vast majority of other countries. When you move the Conservative’s numbers back to 1990 levels, there is a rise in emissions of around 2% by 2020.
What they say:
The Canadian government promises an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas.
The Canadian government actually plans to measure greenhouse gas emission reductions through “carbon intensity” targets. This means that reductions are measured by the decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas that is emitted per unit of energy - a standard that still allows total emissions to increase. For example, Suncor Energy, one of the largest companies in the Alberta oil sands, once announced that it had reduced its carbon intensity by 51 per cent between 1990 and 2006. However, thanks to huge increases in production - the company’s absolute emissions increased by 131 per cent over the same period.
These are the two very big fundamental differences between Canada’s plan and the plan being proposed by President Obama who has committed to reducing absolute US greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020, based on 1990 levels. No PR spin or fancy tricks on the ledger for Obama, just a straighten commitment.
While many are arguing that Obama’s plan does not go far enough, his honesty is refreshing after years of baffle gab and delay from the former White House administration.
Good luck in Washington this week Minister Prentice, you’re going to need it if you plan on sticking George W. Bush’s greenhouse gas inaction plan under the noses of this new administration.
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