Rhein on Energy and Climate

Of all the signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol (1997) Canada deserves the worst rating.

Its per capita C02 emissions are close to 20 to, higher than in any country except USA, Kuwait and Qatar. Instead of reducing its emissions by 5 percent over 1990, as it committed to, its C02 emissions have soared by 30 percent over 1990!

Instead of encouraging the use of hydro- and wind power or engaging in effective programmes for massive thermal insulation of its public and private buildings or imposing tough fuel efficiency standards for automobiles it has ventured into the earth’s most polluting development of fossil fuels by extracting oil from tar sands!

It lacks anything resembling a serious national policy aiming at higher energy efficiency and alternative energies.

Recently, a few rays of hope have appeared at the horizon though.

Canadian citizens are getting aware of the potential costs of climate change, after pine beetles, helped by warm winters, have destroyed vast forest areas of the size of Britain in the Rocky Mountains.

Business is also getting concerned with potential export restrictions on energy-intensive products like aluminium, paper and pulp if Canada failed to adopt policies similar to those of the EU, which might one day impose carbon taxes on both domestic and imported products.

Several Canadian provinces have started imposing carbon taxes, following the example of US states, which are also more progressive than the Federal Government.

Last not least, the opposition Liberal Party has called for a nation-wide carbon tax.

It is time for the international community, in particular the OECD, to call upon Canada to respect its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. As a member of the G8 Canada has to take responsibilities beyond narrow national economic interests; or it does not deserve the privilege of such a membership.

In the past, the USA may have held its protective arm over its northern strategic neighbour. But this is likely to change with the prospect of a new Administration that is likely to take a more forthcoming stance on climate policy.

In 2009, Canada will have the chance of radically improving its tepid environmental image by committing to resolute action against its unsustainable level of C02 emissions. Time may be running out fast, as EU and others will increasingly frown upon a laggard Canada.

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