Canada continues to lead the world in obstructing progress on international climate policy. The latest evidence was presented for the world to observe during the recent climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
Organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the summit’s mission statement clearly spelled out the danger our civilisation faces: “Climate change is one of the most fundamental challenges ever to confront humanity. Its impacts are already showing and will intensify over time if left unchecked.”
Yet the Canadian delegation confirmed our country would not accept binding emission cuts; nor would it agree to emissions targets set under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, during Bonn negotiations.
The Harper Conservatives have consistently shown disinterest in either meeting targets or agreeing to decrease Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions that fuel global warming and climate change. For the past several years, the Canadian government has opposed any post-Kyoto agreement without the participation of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.
Canada has become an international embarrassment. According to the Global Footprint Network and World Wildlife Fund Canada, our nation has the fourth highest ecological footprint on a per-capita basis. Our per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions are also among the highest on the planet. And yet, we appear unwilling to change.
What will it take for our government to recognise that our planet is overheating because of fossil fuels? Is solid scientific evidence, uncovered by leading academics and published in renowned journals, not enough to convince members of Parliament that humanity is damaging our climate system?
What will it take for our government to heed the warnings that climate change is proceeding faster than anticipated and that its impacts can already be seen clearly in northern Canada?
How can our government reject a clear scientific understanding that every additional emission of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere leads to warmer temperatures that will persist for centuries?
Are our political leaders not concerned that human influences on planetary systems have become so widespread as to usher in a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – as suggested by Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen?
Our government is acting as though it is unaware that Canada is being left behind as the rest of the world is moving forward to develop renewable and clean energy. This is both a tragedy and a missed opportunity for our country.
Fossil fuels and polluting energies belong in the past. The longer our government takes to realise it, the poorer Canada will fare in the future economic order. The complacency of Canada’s political and corporate leaders in addressing climate change is dangerous for our well-being. Canadian civil society needs to bring pressure on its leaders to act responsibly. Now!
By disregarding scientific evidence of global warming, by obstructing advances at meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, our government is wilfully ignoring the writing on the wall.
Compared to the Earth’s climate history, a four-year electoral cycle is less than a blink of an eye. But for those of us waiting for our government to bring Canada into the 21st century, a four-year Conservative mandate seems like an eternity.
Let’s keep the heat on our MPs, and make sure they take the action on climate change that we not only want but also urgently need.
Damon Matthews and Paul Shrivastava.
This article was originally posted on the Montreal Gazette Website.
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