Canada: Three Strikes, You’re Out

4 November 2009

Last week, Canadian environment minister Jim Prentice did a great job not protecting the environment. First he broke his promise to reveal the government’s full suite of climate change policies before Copenhagen. As of now, there’s no word on when the strategy (the third in four years) would be completed or even when draft regulations will be tabled.

So yes, strike three. And the minister will travel to Copenhagen with an empty briefcase (unless it contains a manual on how to continue disrupting progress in the climate talks).

A few days later, the minister reacted to a groundbreaking economic modeling study showing that Canada could dramatically reduce emissions by 25% in 2020 relative to 1990 levels, as well as build a strong economy and boost employment. His response to this great news?  It was “irresponsible” to contemplate such a plan because the study showed annual growth rates between now and 2020 would drop mildly from 2.4% to 2.1%.

Here’s what the minister didn’t say: No mention of the economic opportunities provided in clean energy solutions. Nothing about Canadian emissions being 47% above 1990 if the country continues to do nothing, and nothing about the economic impacts of dangerous climate change.

Minister Prentice made it clear that his primary concern is the economic cost to Alberta, home of the tar sands and his own constituency. Yet the study showed that Alberta would still grow faster than every other province. Seems that, for the Canadian government, unhindered growth and damage from the tar sands trumps action on climate change. Now that’s “irresponsible.”

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