Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Even Bit Players Like Canada Matter.

One of the common arguments you get from opponents of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions reductions is that we are such a small country in terms of population that any benefit we produced would be barely noticeable in the greater scheme of things.   Since Canada can't solve the problem, why bother?

Well we can't make a huge difference overall but we can certainly do a great deal to make the situation worse.   Take the European Union for example.   The Brits are still pushing for near-term reductions of 30% in greenhouse gas emissions.  Other leading Euro states, however, want that target scaled back to 20%.  Their argument is that a 30% cut would make their industry uncompetitive with other nations.

It's a very neat, stand alone argument, the very sort of thing that appeals to conservative minds.   That's the end of that discussion, let's move on.  But, of course, it leaves out consideration of the consequences we must expect from our intransigence.   As we're just beginning to understand, not cutting emissions carries a very real and dangerous price.

The head of the UN Climate Change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, is urging the world's military leaders to invest in climate change mitigation to reduce the risk of armed conflict resulting from global warming impacts.   If you think that's fanciful scare mongering by a UN bureaucrat, think again.   Climate wars are a genuine possibility accepted in the Pentagon's last Quadrennial Defense Review and by British Ministry of Defence studies.

[Figueres] warned that if left unabated, the impact of climate change on water supplies, weather patterns and sea levels could cause widespread conflict.

Specifically, she said the impact of global warming would increase poverty and governments would struggle to meet the basic needs of their citizens.

...She warned that the global military budget, which grew 50 per cent in the past decade, will continue to increase unless governments spend more on measures to prevent climate change such as investment in low-carbon technology.

" Even under current trends, the rate of defence spending growth could account for a major part of the money needed to cut global emissions and to help the vulnerable, often in the most unstable areas of the world, to protect their societies from crumbling under climate pressures,"  she said.

It's cowardly for Canada's political leadership to continue burying their heads in the sand on mitigation and adaptation.  It is a grave moral failure on their part to hide behind the Americans' intransigence.  To continue to envision Canada as a filthy fossil fuel superpower in the 21st century is depraved thinking.

1 comment:

LMA said...

The shameful truth is that developing the Tar Sands WILL make the situation much worse globally. By producing and exporting dirty oil, we are contributing to the emissions of other countries as well as climate instability with all its' dangerous consequences.

As a country, we could have been at the forefront of research into climate change, considering the incredible changes happening now in the Arctic. Oh sure, it was announced this week that Canada will be part of the Arctic Change Assessment Study being carried out by members of the Arctic Council, but their report is not due until 2015! God only knows what the situation will be in the Arctic and the world by then.