It’s a well-known fact that Stephen Harper has for years pledged to follow the American lead on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. He contends that Canada’s climate action policies should be close to that of the United States. “Canada cannot act alone because our economy is closely integrated with that of the United States,” has argued Prime Minister Harper.
Mr. Harper told Global News in December 2013 that oil and gas regulations “would be best done if we could do this in concert with our major trading partner … so that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be able to do over the next couple of years,” said Harper.
So far this has worked for him but no more. Canada’s made-in-the-US climate action policy is seriously flawed and will backfire on Harper and his Conservatives in the 2015 Federal election.
Stephen Harper is Out of Excuses on Climate Action
Five years ago in Copenhagen, Canada and the US committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. The United States is on track to attain its target but Canada will fail miserably to do so. Canada’s national goal is to reduce emissions to 607 million tonnes by the year 2020. But current policies have Canada on track to emit 734 million tonnes into the air that year.
Key Facts from Pembina Institute:
- Canada is among the top emitters, per capita, in the industrialized world.
- Canada and the U.S. have both committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.
- The U.S. is likely to meet its 2020 climate target, while Canada is expected to miss its emissions target by 20 per cent (122 megatonnes of CO2e).
- Canada’s oil and gas sector regulations are now eight years overdue. In the meantime, emissions from the oilsands are set to rise from 34 megatonnes to 101 megatonnes between 2005 and 2020.
- Canada has regulated emissions related to 10 per cent of the energy in its electricity system, whereas the U.S. has targeted all electricity emissions.
- Canada’s coal regulations are mitigating 0.4 per cent of our emissions by 2020. The U.S. clean power plan would mitigate 4.9 to 6.6 per cent of U.S. emissions.
Geoffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail) writes that “Canada’s charade, well known to other countries, of insisting that promises will be kept when in fact they never are, shows no sign of ending.” While Harper and his Environment Ministers brazenly brag about Canada’s climate action performance, Canada’s reputation in international climate talks has dropped to an all-time low. Canada is now regarded as the poorest climate change performer of all OECD countries.
The China-US Climate Deal
Harper’s justification for his government’s failures to limit the growth of emissions by pointing to the lack of action of heavy emitters like China and the United States has now lost all credibility. The agreement is less significant for the emissions reductions it will achieve than it is for the strong signal it sends to other world leaders, especially Canada and Australia.
Our stated policy on climate change has been to act in lock-step with the Americans but President Obama’s actions – the Climate Action Plan, the EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants and now the China-US pact – have make the gap between both countries more conspicuous.
Obama’s flurry of climate actions has now put tremendous pressure on Canada to step up its efforts on climate change. The ball is embarassingly in Harper’s court. Hiding in the shadows of the Americans and lying to the Canadian public have worked for Harper but it’s no longer the case. Doing nothing is no longer an option for his government facing an election in 2015.
Mr. Harper, your climate charade is over. It’s your move.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and an Climate Activist. Rolly has been published in several online publications – Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, Georgian Bay News.