Thursday, September 20, 2007

Canada Faces Lawsuit Over Kyoto Failure

The Federal Government is facing a lawsuit for its failure to take action on global warming and address Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

The lawsuit is a direct follow up to the Conservative government's failure to meet the demands of a private members bill passed by opposition parties this past February. That bill demanded that the minority Conservatives honour Canada's international climate change commitments and draft a plan outlining how they would do so.

But when the Conservatives unveiled their "Turning the Corner" plan for climate change, not only did they fail to meet the demands of that bill, they also demonstrated it in plain math - a move which may have swung the door wide open for this lawsuit to occur.

Conservatives, global warming deniers, and even some environmentally sympathetic Canadians, will be howling that there is no way we can meet those targets by 2012, the deadline of the Kyoto Protocol. They are probably even right. But getting Canada to meet Kyoto isn't necessarily the point of the lawsuit anymore than the point of the Conservatives' climate change plan was to actually address global warming.

The lawsuit is a pointed action directed at the federal government, regardless of what party comes into power next, to push them towards taking the most aggressive action possible against global warming. Kyoto may not be reachable, but this is no barrier to Canada developing a genuine plan to curb greenhouse gases. If the Conservatives present such a plan, you can be certain this lawsuit would disappear - even if that plan doesn't meet the strict Kyoto letter of the law.

The lawsuit was brought to Federal Court by Friends of the Earth Canada, Ecojustice Canada and private attorney Chris Paliare.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Canada to Accept Nuclear Waste

This weekend the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership will meet in Vienna, Austria to discuss a new era and international agreement governing the use of nuclear fuel.

The conference and partnership are being dubbed as an effort to "promote and safeguard the industry". What it is in fact is an attempt to redraw the lines of responsibility for the management of nuclear waste. The heart of the plan is a new agreement stating that all used nuclear fuel be returned to its country of origin for disposal.

Canada is the world's largest uranium exporter.

The proposal was brought forward by President Bush, and its motivation is clear. As a leader in nuclear energy use, the US is looking for ways to offload the costs of nuclear energy and waste management to other nations while continuing to enjoy the benefits - you know, like being wed to a massively subsidized, polluting, and expensive energy source that burdens the next million generations with toxic risk.

But by shear accident, Bush has stumbled into the polluter pays principle. If Canada is forced to be responsible for the toxic legacy of what we pull from the ground, then suddenly the apparent economic 'benefits' of nuclear mining will need to be weighed against the long-term costs of waste disposal for the first time - a prospect that will not sit well with Canadian voters.

Just as it is the oil company's responsibility to lead the global warming effort by endorsing plans to reduce emissions, just as it is the forestry industry's responsibility to engage in sustainable forestry, Canada has an equal responsibility in the nuclear age. If Canada is to continue to be the world's leader in producing uranium fuel, then it is our responsibility to be the world's leader in disposing of its waste.

If that is a responsibility that we are not prepared to bear, then we shouldn't be producing nuclear fuel in the first place.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Whale Dies from "Old Age"

The trouble with satire is that sometimes it can be just too close to the truth.

Australian readers will be well familiar with Clarke and Dawe. For the rest of us, here's what may be a first look at their particular brand of humour via "John Howard's" view of seismic testing and whales.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Leaders Agree to Aspire to Stop Global Warming

At the APEC conference leaders of the Pacific Rim nations are huddled up in a well fortified section of Sydney where they have announced a sweeping new plan to address global warming in the form of "aspirational goals".

Recognizing the public's impatience and mistrust of voluntary measures to control greenhouse gases, world leaders like George Bush, Stephen Harper and conference host John Howard have given up on them. Aspirational goals, they assure us, will provide the effective solutions we need to tackle climate change.

So what is an aspirational goal? Clearly its a huge step forward for all nations. Now instead merely having industry set their own targets for reductions and ignore them, they will now have to "aspire" to reach them. For greater clarity here's YourDictionary's definition for aspire:

1. To have a great ambition or ultimate goal; desire strongly: aspired to stardom.
2. To strive toward an end: aspiring to great knowledge.
3. To soar.

Spirits are soaring now that leaders have endorsed an inspired plan to inspire industry to aspire towards the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The move will clearly succeed in helping business take a leadership role in implementing real solutions by giving them the freedom and flexibility to leverage their past success ignoring voluntary targets and misrepresenting global warming science.

I'm feeling aspired...Aren't you?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Think Tank Calls for an End to Green Taxes

The UK's Taxpayer Alliance (TA) has released a report calling for a stop to future green taxes, while accusing the government of exploiting climate change fears to justify tax hikes.

Citing their own analysis of what they consider to be green taxes, the TA alleges that the average UK household pays £400 extra each year because green taxes were set too high - despite the fact that the country is one of the few in the world on pace to meet its targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the UK economy has enjoyed consistent long term growth.

So where does the real problem lie?

Bear in mind that taxpayer organizations have a peculiar but easily salable mission, namely to campaign for lower taxes. All of their recommendations go towards this one goal, with the assumption that it will translate into a better society and happier, healthier citizens. Anyone with a first year education in economics can tell you this assumption doesn't hold. More relevant here is that their report doesn't address reducing carbon (the real goal of climate change policy), but rather it analyzes something called "the social cost of carbon".

I have no idea what the social cost of carbon is, nor who is paying this (to whom) on behalf of co2. Climate change policy is about REDUCING CARBON. Costing of carbon is only a tactic in attaining this goal. The only true measure of climate change policy is whether or not it is in fact reducing greenhouse gases, in the amount needed, and in the most cost efficient way. That's not what this report is about.

Like most "taxpayer rights" rackets, the pencil pushers at the TA do a fine job playing games with numbers while managing to miss the point entirely. The UK is leading the developed world in revolutionizing the economy and tackling the greatest challenge of our day. Let's keep it that way.