It's Christmastime in Canada - when all self-satisfied ideologues take a moment to lift the finger of blame and point it at somebody else.
“Credit” for outstanding performance in this regard must go to National Citizens Coalition President andf CEO Peter Coleman. In ringing defence of the former NCC president (and now Canadian Prime Minister) Stephen Harper, Coleman offers a cheery Christmas message that celebrates Canada's reneging on its legal commitment to the Kyoto Accord and dodges Canadian responsibility for contributing to the climate crisis.
Specifically, Coleman talks about appearing before a group of University of Windsor law students, who asked him about Kyoto:
When I responded that Canada emits 2% of the world's greenhouse gases they were surprised to hear that it is that low. When I told them that Alberta's oil sands contribute just 5% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions they were again surprised as they expected it would be a lot more.
Coleman is actually wrong on the numbers. The latest tally (2008) puts Canada's GHG emissions at “only” 1.8 per cent, which is swell as long as you don't think about Canada's population amounting to just 0.004 per cent of the world's total. That makes Canada the fourth worst polluter per capita. It also makes our 34 million inhabitants the seventh largest source of CO2 among all the countries in the world - that's seventh from a list of 216 countries and jurisdictions.
And what of the tar sands supposedly tiny contribution? If it was a country, the tar sands 0.09 per cent share of global GHG emissions would put it in a tie with Ecuador in 76th place. The tar sands alone emit more CO2 than the bottom 60 countries and jurisdictions COMBINED. Canada as a country produces more than the bottom 135 countries - combined.
This somehow makes Coleman proud. It gives him courage to deride China, which “gets a free pass even though they contribute over 20 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases.” Yes, and that at a rate of less than half of Canada's on a per capita basis - and despite the amount of CO2 that is derived from the production of goods that are, in fact, consumed in Canada.
Coleman makes one point worth acknowledging: he criticizes the Liberal government of Jean Chretien for having signed the Kyoto Accord without making any attempt to comply with it. Too right. Canada's humiliation began under the Chretien Liberals, but it took the self-righteous determination of the Harper Conservatives to make it complete.
It remains a mystery, however, as to why this should leave Peter Coleman feeling smug.