Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Canada Savaged Over Oil Sands

I typically do not re-post articles, but yesterday's piece is the Guardian is noteworthy. Titled "Canada's image in tatters" the article details at length Canada's roll as a corrupt petro-state, and the litany of damage our nation has caused to climate change negotiations.

The following is an excerpt that clearly paints Canada's true colours when it comes to the environment.

So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.

Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.

In 2006 the new Canadian government announced it was abandoning its targets to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto protocol. No other country that had ratified the treaty has done this. Canada was meant to have cut emissions by 6% between 1990 and 2012. Instead they have already risen by 26%.... the future cut Canada has volunteered is smaller than that of any other rich nation.

After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007, it singlehandedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008, it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country that had done most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world's 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th. Canada came 59th.

In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by his bullying. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government battled for hours (and eventually won) against Canada's obstructions. A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth.

In Copenhagen next week, this country will do everything in its power to wreck the talks. The rest of the world must do everything in its power to stop it.

None of this should represent news to any reasonably well informed Canadian. Seeing it laid out in one single column, however, should do more than give us pause. It should be the start of a serious conversation about what it is to be Canadian, and about what role we want to play in the world.

And nowhere is this issue more relevant than with respect to climate change, a crisis that most Canadians feel, "is the planet's defining crisis".