Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Canadian PM Stephen Harper - or Steve, as President Bush called him last week, to the consternation of Harper's mother - has stumbled upon a short explanation of his government's approach to Kyoto.

I'd call it a "talking point", if I did not hate that term for further greasing the side of politics towards nothing more than marketing (seriously, you use "talking points" when working the sales floor at a stereo store, not when discussing international policy). Anyway, here's one wording of Harper's explanation, from the G8 summit:

"We [Canada and the UK] don't differ on the philosophy of climate change. Our differences are the facts that our two countries are presented with," he told a news conference with Blair.

"Prime Minister Blair's government has taken steps over the years to reach its targets. The previous (Liberal) government of Canada did not do that and has put us in a position where they're not attainable. That doesn't mean we're abandoning the process. Canada is fully engaged."

The political equivalent of a child's 'not my fault, he started it.'

The funny thing is, on the surface, it's not a bad argument. Canada is in a difficult position because the Chretien government chose a target without proper consultation with the provinces and then made a lame effort to meet that target.

The problem is that the refusal of the now-ruling Conservative party to support action on Kyoto and emissions reductions in the past is a prime reason it became so difficult to meet the targets. It is like wasting tons of time complaining there you cannot finish some work before a deadline, then when it is not finished, saying, see, I told you we couldn't finish it.

If the government were truly "engaged" in the process, they would not have cancelled the existing emissions reductions programs and they would have developed a national greenhouse gas emissions reductions plan. Instead, the PM's statement is empty rhetoric.


Ross said...

The PM's position also seems similar to the junior-high logic of "I'm probably gonna fail anyway, so why even try."

Here in the US, the anti-Kyoto types seem to take glee in the fact that England and other countries (apparently Canada) aren't on pace to meet their Kyoto commitments: See, it doesn't work! or See, it's not realistic!

Luckily, mother nature rejects the underlying fallacious logic. Any reduction helps, even if it falls short of arbitrarily-set goals. To me, at least, Kyoto is about making a best effort to move in the right direction.

Simon Donner said...

The shame is if the Canadian government just made some effort to reduce emissions, the European nations and Japan may then be open to negotiating with Canada on the target for 2012, or more likely, some form of an extnsion tied to a post-2012 agreement. They recognize the difficult position Canada has been in since the US withdrew. Plus, it's no secret that Canada originally intended to agree to a 0-3% reduction below 1990 levels, but former PM Chretien called an audible (-6% below) in Kyoto after the US chimed with a 5% promise.