Canada has the opportunity to be a world leader in combating climate change, but is our government ready to make a serious commitment and follow through on it? Evidence thus far suggests it is not.
For one, we've been there before. The Kyoto Protocol was an historic milestone, the world's first and only binding international agreement setting targets to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It was also a chance to create jobs by stimulating the high-tech and construction industries, improve public health, and help protect our environment. We signed on, but we didn't deliver.
Our current government has not even tried to meet the Kyoto targets - it cut programs like the Wind Power Production Incentive and Energuide for Houses - and hasn't even tried to meet its own lame targets of cutting emissions three per cent by 2020. The Americans have similarly low goals, but at least they are working on legislation to make sure they meet them, i.e. a cap-and-trade system.
Plainly put, our government is dragging its feet, both in waiting to follow the Americans' lead, and refusing to sign on to a new deal unless developing nations are included. Meanwhile, we continue to pollute. As of 2006, our emissions were 22 per cent above the 1990 level, compared to the Kyoto target of six per cent below the 1990 level by 2008-2012.
In honour of our less than stellar record on this issue, Canada was one of the countries presented with the "Fossil of the Day" distinction this week by non-governmental groups at the Copenhagen conference on climate change.
The more we lag now, the more of a burden our children and grandchildren will have to shoulder. We can do better.