With Harper continuing to play games, the government in waiting is no longer standing by. Michael Ignatieff unveiled the Liberal plan, and some of the country's top environmentalists were very pleased.
Wake up, Canada, before it's too late
We should be leading the pack in the race to fight global warming
By STEVEN GUILBEAULT, RICK SMITH, TZEPORAH BERMAN, and DALE MARSHALL, December 2, 2009
While U.S. President Barack Obama has been meeting with China, the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter, trying to galvanize an international climate agreement, Canada, which uses more energy per capita than almost any other country, is like the hare that lies down for a nap while the tortoise overtakes it. Only Canada hasn't woken up from its nap, and the consequences of sleeping a little longer grow exponentially by the day.
It's not really fair to blame Canada. It's really the federal government that's asleep. The Canadian public has already woken up; 62 per cent of us say Ottawa should set "higher and harder targets" to reduce global warming pollution, according to Harris-Decima polling this October.
Seems something of this has gotten to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who recently proposed a cap-and-trade system that would actually reduce global warming pollution.
After months of criticizing the government without revealing his own plan, Ignatieff proposed a system that he says would be fair for all provinces and would apply to all industries. No special treatment - not even for Canada's tar sands.
The Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party support this approach as do Canada's largest provinces. All recognize that our economy will be stronger if we stimulate clean energy. In fact the jobs of the future depend on staying in the race.
We believe this is the right approach for Canada. It recognizes that the way toward business certainty and environmental health is to stimulate innovation and reward environmental responsibility.
It's also true we must be compatible with a future U.S. energy system and climate plan. But we're not remotely keeping up with the Americans, who are outspending Canada as much as 14 to 1 per capita on government investment in a green economy. The Americans are doubling renewable energy production while Canada's incentives were not re-funded in the last federal budget.
Close to nothing has been done to ensure Canadians, not to mention our children and grandchildren, benefit from the new direction the world is taking. Canada keeps hitting "snooze" just as the world, and especially our major trading partner, is waking up to the reality and necessity of a clean energy economy.
Rather than being constructive globally, rather than using our diplomacy to find common pathways forward for the developed and developing nations, Canada says we must wait for others, even though others are further ahead.
Just like the hare, Canada is riding on a false sense of confidence that could end badly - a race lost as the planet approaches climate tipping points like the potential disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers (the source of fresh water for 2 billion people in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China).
Canada's tar sands alone hold the potential to push the world above two degrees of warming and into runaway climate change - an unprecedented responsibility.
In the race against global warming, Canada belongs at the front of the pack with our allies. Setting tough limits on global warming pollution and substantial investments in a green energy economy would get Canada back in the race.
(Steven Guilbeault is with Equiterre; Rick Smith with Environmental Defence; Tzeporah Berman with PowerUP Canada; and Dale Marshall with the David Suzuki Foundation.)