Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Intensity targets for the world, says PM Harper

The Globe and Mail reports that Canadian PM Stephen Harper is pushing for a new international climate change plan using intensity-based emissions targets rather actual emissions targets, like Kyoto.

Harper is correct in asserting that many countries, including China, are currently unwilling to accept hard targets. In that case, an intensity-based targets may be an acceptable middle ground (though not indefinitely!) for countries in the midst of economic growth and development. Not for the whole world, and especially not for the worst per-capita polluters like the US and Canada.

The claim that this "Canadian" idea is the best way to engage the US is laughable.

First of all, the emissions intensity tack taken by the Can. Conservative party and now at least temporarily enshrined in government policy came directly from Bush Administration policy set over five years ago. I wrote a warning about this 16 months ago in the Toronto Star (at the time, I admit, I never considered the plan would be lifted almost digit for digit from US policy!).

Second, time is running out on the Bush Administration and its refusal to accept real emissions targets. There are multiple bills with medium and long-term emissions targets before Senate and the Congress, summarized by this dizzying World Resources Institute chart. States representing almost half the US population have set long-term emissions targets. I even drew a map. And all the major contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination are putting forward climate change plans with real emissions targets.

Third, the Conservative government is a minority, and all three opposition parties support real emissions targets. The only reason their approach to climate change may survive is that no party in Parliament wants to force an election over this, or possibly, any other issue. The result is that the Canadian government is now advancing a policy that is dishonest, regressive (with respect to other developed nations), and does not have the support of the Canadian people.

For other opinions, try the Toronto Star's latest editorial, the Globe's editorial, and the various angry online reactions (here here here).

No comments: