I am following the proceedings to create an international treaty that will replace the Kyoto Accord over in Durban, South Africa this week. The Kyoto Accord will be completed in 2012 and so far the international community has failed to come together to create an agreement that would continue to ensure that countries take action to reduce greenhouse gases.
While climate change has waned in popularity over the last few years since the economic turmoil began, it does not mean that the realities we have all seen in The Inconvenient Truth are not still coming.
The Kyoto Accord did accomplish some things. Overall, greenhouse gases have been reduced largely due to the Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Switzerland and Germany. However, Canada, the United States and Australia did not meet their reduction targets. In fact they doubled. Canada’s per capita GHG emissions increased 3.2 per cent between 1990 and 2008.
Canada was the only one of those countries that ratified Kyoto when it was first created, yet instead of reducing our emissions- Canada increased it by 24%.First, this speaks to the ongoing need to take immediate action at the federal level because we are all reluctant to change and will just continue increasing our GHG indefinitely unless we have strong leadership; second, it ignores the fact that our residents and communities especially in the North are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; and thirdly, it sends a signal to other countries that we are not a global partner.
Unfortunately, Liberal and Conservative governments need to take responsibility for us not reaching the Kyoto goals; however, that does not mean that the Harper Government can continue to stall and compromise international discussions on climate change.
For example, the Conservatives claimed that NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie was guilty of treason for meeting with groups in Washington on concerns about the Keystone pipeline and tar sands. Canada was once known as an environmental ally to New Zealand and Germany yet we are now labelled a fossil fool on the international stage (since the Conservatives took office, Canada has received 5 International Colossal Fossil Awards for scuttling debate on climate change…) This doesn’t bode well for Canada’s desire to address the issue of climate change.
Prince Edward Island is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as we are low lying and susceptible to severe storms. If Minister Kent does not cooperate with our international partners to create a binding international agreement to replace Kyoto, I am fearful we cannot adapt quickly enough.