By Joyce Murray, M.P. | iPolitics
Now is the time to be true to our principles and the actions they demand.
Principled Canadians know that we must conserve earth’s essential life-support systems. Churches across Canada are raising 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 are criticizing the Harper government’s inaction towards achieving Canada’s climate goals (and are rewarded by being laid off in droves.)
Economists with the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment advised government that the costs of a reduced-carbon economy are lower than the eventual financial costs of inaction, and manageable for Canada. Many business leaders, environmentalists, municipal governments and citizens are doing their best, but that will not be enough and they demand action from senior governments.
Our Canada and our world are at risk. 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 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. A large percentage of the globe’s surface is predicted to experience conditions never before seen by today’s living organisms, due to rising concentrations of climate-harming gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Recent crop failures, fires, floods, ocean acidification and forest devastation will seem modest in comparison. This summer a leading U.S. 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 is abdicating its responsibility. What we need is leadership, and what we are getting is censorship and spin. Instead of protecting Canada’s – and the world’s – sustainable future, the government is betraying that 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 plan to achieve his own 2020 climate target. Not good enough!
Mr. Harper’s loyalty is to the oil sector when it should be to the country, a fundamental breach of trust. Instead of doing the right thing and limiting climate-harming gases he is betraying Canada and our future 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 benefit from policies and innovations to reduce fossil fuel use and emissions. Instead Canada’s reputation is tarred and our firms harmed by trade tariffs stemming from 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. Our Canada has always been a country to be proud of, at home and abroad. But today the 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 policies that not only protect us, but make us proud again.
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