Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Friday with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. In any such bilateral meeting, it is paramount that each participant trust the words of their counterpart. After all, when it comes to the world of diplomacy, where wars are settled and treaties are signed, there's little more than words and trust.
The tar sands industry ad campaign, which criticizes our reliance on oil imports from Saudi Arabia due to its poor human rights record, tells viewers that choosing between women’s rights and tar sands expansion is “a choice we must make”.
The ads argue instead that intensifying tar sands production will actually help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. They also imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline because it will decrease our reliance on “conflict oil”.
According to the ads, “We bankrolled a state that doesn’t allow women to drive, doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian’s permission and a state where a woman’s testimony only accounts for half of a man’s”.
A female voice pleads to the viewer, “Why are we paying their bills and funding their oppression?”
The ad has angered Saudi Arabia, who in response sent a cease and desist letter to Telecaster Services from the Television Bureau of Canada, demanding approval for the ads be withdrawn.
Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), a panel composed mainly of government appointees from industry and former Conservative politicians, has released a new report assessing whether Canada should “lead, lag, or harmonize” climate policies with the US, and the consequences of doing so.
In recent years, the Canadian federal government has opposed unilaterally acting on climate change, instead committing to harmonize greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions with the US in a continental approach. This has been a favourite position for Canadian Environmental Ministers wishing to postpone acting on climate change for fear of locking Canada into GHG emissions reductions, and notably for Jim Prentice who quit as Environment Minister late last year:
“Our determination to harmonize our climate change policy with that of the United States also extends beyond greenhouse gas emission targets: we need to proceed even further in aligning our regulations.”
“We will only adopt a cap-and-trade regime if the United States signals that it wants to do the same. Our position on harmonization applies equally to regulation…Canada can go down either road — cap-and-trade or regulation — but we will go down neither road alone.”
Canada is off to an impressive start at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, if what you’re measuring is climate inaction and environmental embarrassment.
Today, at the first set of the Fossil of the Day awards, Canada took home not one, or two, but all three of the awards. The dubious ‘honour’ is voted on by an international coalition of than 400 leading international environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, who vote on the countries that performed the worst during the past day’s negotiations. Turns out if you are really committed to climate inaction, fail to have any plan to meet already weak targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, defeat a climate change bill that was already passed in your House of Commons by holding a snap vote by an unelected Senate after no debate, and are complicit in trying to weaken climate policy outside of your own national borders, you can win all three of the humiliating prizes.
The gentleman accepting the shameful awards on behalf of Canada hopped from podium step to podium step, barely able to juggle his armful of awards. Looks like Canada can clean up humiliating awards, but can’t clean up its act.
In the next two weeks, we’ll see if Canada will take home the Fossil of the Year for the forth year in a row. From the look of things now, we might as well preemptively cue the Jurassic Park theme music.
Watch this hilarious video to see Canada’s flagrant lack of commitment to climate change policy given its due recognition. We can only hope that history does not repeat itself once more. Prove us wrong, will you Mr. Baird?
Yesterday the World Wildlife Fund and German insurance giant Allianz SE, ranked Canada the second to last in the G8 group of nations for its lack of effort to curb greenhouse gases emissions. Today the Canadian government is defending itself. In reaction to the WWF report, Gerry Keller, a spokesperson for the Minister of the Environment stated that:
The WWF said Canada's greenhouse gas emissions trends are going up and that emissions have increased. Yet for the last two years on record, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have in fact gone down.” [my emphasis]That would be very reassuring news, but unfortunately Mr. Keller's comment is little more than an attempt to shift the conversation away from the long-term projections that show Canada's greenhouse gas emissions to continue to rise in the years ahead.
A new Environment Canada report “discreetly” posted on the Department website shows that the Canadian government's climate change plan will reduce greenhouse gas by a fraction of what was originally promised.
According to an article by Mike de Souza at Canwest News Service:
The plan shows that many existing climate change measures such as the transit tax credit, regulations to increase biofuels production and the banning of incandescent light bulbs will result in a fraction of the greenhouse gas emission reductions that they were previously estimated to achieve.”
In a suspicious “leak ” to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian government has announced a “tough new green plan” that will force oil sands projects and coal-fired power plants to capture and store CO2.
This would be good if it were true, but the Globe article says the federal Conservative government is still using intensity targets and has given a free pass to all projects that are already “hit the drawing board.” At last report, oil sands developers had existing plans to triple their operations by 2012, so the Tory plan may be similar to the Alberta government plan: which is, effectively, to let the oil patch do whatever it wants.
A Harris-Decima poll released today shows that the governing Tory party in Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper is losing popularity quickly due in large part to their performance at the recent United Nation's global warming conference held in Bali, Indonesia.
The Harper government now finds itself in a statistical tie at 30% with the opposition Liberal Party.Support for the Tories has dropped across all regions and demographic groups.
A new Angus Reid poll out today shows that the Stephen Harper Tory government continues to slump in popularity, and much of the blame lands squarely on their continued bumbling over the issue of global warming.
The Tory government is limping along with a paltry 33 per cent of Canadians supporting their party compared with 36.3 per cent on election day and the party's high of 39 per cent in March of this year.
The environment remains the highest-ranked issue for voters.