Kyoto

We are looking at all options

— Rona Ambrose, Federal Environment Minister (CON)

It’s with these words that Ms. Ambrose decides that she wants to scrap Kyoto. In which case, trust me, I too am looking at all options. I’m looking at all options to throw the Conservatives out of government as quickly as possible.

Personal indignation and off-the-cuff response aside, let’s briefly examine the issue. Canada signed on to Kyoto, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So far we’ve failed miserably; Environment Canada officials peg our emissions at 30% higher than the benchmark. According to Ms. Ambrose, this is an embarrassing failure – even more so considering that Canada chairs the UN Framework for Climate Change. Thus, she says, the short-term solutions are unreasonable and the government needs “action and solutions long term. We need solutions that are out by 50, 100 years, not two years, five years.”
I think NDP leader Jack Layton put it best:

It’s as though they’re throwing in the towel before we’ve even begun.

— Jack Layton, NDP

He’s right – that is a defeatist attitude. Look, I don’t think it was entirely unexpected that Canada wouldn’t meet the goals. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a huge task and it’s complicated by a number of factors such as:

  • Substantial resource extraction industries
  • Highly suburban population
  • Climate
  • Subsidized water, power and gas for industries and individuals
  • Immature public transit systems
  • Population attitude
  • ‘Dirty’ power plants

Looking at this list, can we solve these problems in a decade. No. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do what we can now. If everyone looked at the magnitude of the problems they faced in their lives, activity would grind to a halt. Isn’t it true that the best way to approach a problem is piecemeal? Well…in that case…we know that the plan the Liberals set out is unrealistic. But, it does represent something, and while we’re doing that, we – the people, the government – can elaborate our long-term goals and policies. But don’t just throw your hands in the air and say “It’s hopeless – so we won’t do anything!”

Do anything but that.

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