The voices of the climate change movement have gained a new ally. Joining the likes of Al Gore and David Suzuki is one of the most famous and mysterious men on the planet &- Osama Bin Laden.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, Bin Laden released an audio recording in which he condemns industrial economies, corporate interests and the United State’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol in a “message to the whole world about those responsible for climate change and its repercussions.” While his critique was of all western, industrial nations, he placed the burden of guilt on “George Bush Junior, preceded by [the U.S.] congress, [who] dismissed the [Kyoto] agreement to placate giant corporations.”
The al-Qaeda leader displayed a strong understanding of the nuanced pitfalls of letting U.S. policy lead climate legislation, something Canadian leaders have failed to grasp.
Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced recently that Canada would take a page from the corporate sector and outsource its environmental policy. Scrapping their “made-in-Canada” plan, Conservatives announced a new departure for domestic climate change legislation: having it penned in the U.S.
Emissions targets, now harmonized with the American’s goal of a 17 per cent reduction of 2005 levels by 2020, give the impression of real emissions cuts in North America, 17 is a double-digit number after all. But according to Greenpeace, this new goal will actually increase emissions by 2.5 per cent over 1990 levels. Canada agreed to reduce its emissions 6 per cent below 1990 levels within the Kyoto Protocol. Our government has completely contradicted what was supposed to be a legally binding agreement.
Even more worrying than the “progress through regression” logic behind this “Kyoto lite” agreement &- easier on the stomachs of aging, confused politicians &- is the Conservative’s desire to “continentalize” targets, making Canadian environmental legislation a rat following the American Pied Piper.
The documents filed by the Canadian government in accordance with the Copenhagen accord state that domestic emissions will “be aligned with the final economy-wide emission target of the United States in enacted legislation.” This translates to Canadian legislation first having to play “follow the leader” as the U.S. Waxman-Markey Bill &- upon which the announced targets are based &- finds its way through the paper shredder known as U.S. Congress.
Handing over domestic environmental legislation to the United States is a brazen step for the Harper government, publicly selling the Canadian environment in a way normally reserved for jargon-filled international trade negotiations like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
Under the “proportionality clause” of NAFTA &- added to the agreement with the help of former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed &- Canada is not allowed reduce its oil and gas shipments to the U.S. while increasing its domestic supply. The SPP, an extension of NAFTA programs where the U.S., Canada and Mexico cooperate to purportedly secure their borders, is accused of attempting to expand the southward flow of commodities to include water, adding weight to fears that the U.S. is turning Canada into a “resource colony.”
Banking on history to vindicate him, Prentice linked the Conservative harmonization plan to another major pollution reduction agreement between Canada and the U.S. &- the Acid Rain Treaty. Signed over 20 years ago by Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney, the treaty required Canada to launch a “full-scale public assault in an attempt to forge a bilateral agreement,” a far cry from the harmonious image Prentice is trying to portray.
It cannot be ignored that the economies of Canada and the U.S. are joined at the hip, but relinquishing control of domestic climate legislation seems less like some sort of environmental Nuremberg defence, allowing the Conservatives to cast blame for inaction on those south of the border. To think a plan crafted in Washington will be sufficient to confront domestic environmental issues &- such as the Athabasca tar sands, a large Arctic landmass and Canada’s relatively scarce population &- is ridiculous, a word increasingly well suited to describe our government’s position on climate change.