In week three of Parliament’s fall session Conservatives MPs continue pushing the farcical spat with the NDP that dominated week one: “You’re calling for a massive carbon tax.” “No we’re not, and you were too!” Actually both parties have called for putting a price on carbon – as has the Liberal Party of Canada – because that’s exactly what is needed to reduce climate warming risks and to stimulate a cleaner economy and new green jobs. But the Conservatives now prefer to attack than to act.
Let’s stop pretending economic and environmental choices are either-or. Principled Canadians know that healthy economy in the future requires us to conserve earth’s essential life-support systems.
Churches across Canada have raised ethical objections to the Northern Gateway pipeline, expressing their “religious duty to speak up” for moral Canadians who understand their responsibility to care for nature. Scientists have criticized Prime Minister Harper’s government’s inaction towards achieving Canada’s climate goals, while economists with the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment assured the government that the price of creating a reduced-carbon economy is lower than the price of inaction.
The urgency will only increase. Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s Biosphere is a study by 22 researchers from 15 international institutes recently published in the prestigious journal Nature, which concludes that if climate warming is not slowed, the earth’s ecosystems could be heading for a near-total collapse by the end of this century, well within our youngest children’s lifetimes. Recent crop failures, fires, floods, ocean acidification and forest devastation will seem modest in comparison. This summer a leading US climate skeptic, Dr. Richard Muller, to his credit recanted his previous denial of the existence of global warming. He now admits that his intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists validates the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, and concludes that essentially all the warming stems from human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada’s Conservative government lacks a credible plan to meet its Copenhagen emissions reduction commitment. What we need is leadership, and what we are getting is censorship and spin, a government betraying our trust. In tallying Canada’s carbon emissions scorecard, the government negotiated a new UN Climate Convention accounting option to allow the helpful absorption of carbon by Canada’s natural ecosystems to be included, while the harmful emissions from climate-driven disasters like pine bark beetle and forest fires are ignored. Federal oil patch regulations will encourage oil and gas sector emissions to soar in coming years, and upgrades to existing facilities will not be required. Prime Minister Harper is hiding behind provincial programs like B.C.’s, with no real actions to achieve his own 2020 climate target. Not good enough!
Mr. Harper’s loyalty to the oil sector, rather than to the country’s sustainable future, is a fundamental breach of trust. Instead of doing the right thing and limiting climate-harming gases he is betraying Canada by giving atmospheric polluters a “free pass”. The generations of Canadians who built this country and fought for its values and security are being betrayed. Canadians’ moral responsibility to avoid preventable harm to nature and humanity is betrayed; Canada’s children, who will suffer the mounting human health and natural resource costs of inhospitable climate, are betrayed; and Canadian businesses are betrayed. Our economy, like Germany’s, would flourish from investment and innovation to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Instead Canada’s reputation is tarred and our firms harmed by trade tariffs tied to Canada’s betrayal of its climate action obligations.
Canadians do not allow garbage to be freely dumped in public spaces, but by subsidizing fossil fuels and failing to put a price on harmful carbon emissions, the government is betraying that principle too. Canada has always been a country to be proud of at home and abroad but today’s government is shirking Canada’s fair share to reduce climate risks to ourselves and to fellow human beings. This is our Canada, it’s our future, and we demand federal responsibility, and policies for a cleaner economy and the sustainable jobs that will make us proud again.
3893 West Broadway, Vancouver
Member of Parliament Vancouver Quadra