Sunday, October 18, 2015

The fundamental issue

Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow weigh in on the need not to let sideshows distract us from what should be the most important issue of the federal election campaign. And as referred to here, the Pembina Institute reminds us where the major parties stand in advance of the Paris summit which may determine whether we're ever able to establish an international commitment to rein in catastrophic climate change - and why we can't afford to wait any longer:
Canada’s [greenhouse gas emission target] has been deemed inadequate by international experts: it is not consistent with Canada’s equitable contribution to a two-degree warming limit. No federal government attending the Paris negotiations with this INDC can say its actions align with the United Nations’ negotiating text, in terms of both ambition and timeliness.

On the issue of improved targets, it’s unclear how the Liberals could update Canada’s inadequate INDC without releasing new emissions reduction numbers in advance of the Paris summit. Both the NDP and the Greens, however, would be well-positioned to update Canada’s INDC to align with their emissions targets.
For all voters who recognize climate change as the most important collective action issue of our time, the Libs' regression should be a decisive factor as to which major party can possibly offer an alternative to the Cons in time for the next round of international climate negotiations. Simply put, an NDP government will come to the table with something constructive to offer; a Liberal government will not.

Without a target to meet or a plan to meet it, Canada will be in a position to do nothing more than make excuses for inaction. But Justin Trudeau's election promise on climate change is actually to avoid having either when the meetings take place beginning next month - as even the Cons' insufficient targets get thrown out the window in favour of kicking the can down the road. And the perception that Canada remains a fossil as it has been under the Harper Cons will only provide an excuse for other countries to drag their heels.

Nor is there any reason to put up with Trudeau's main excuse about waiting to set a target until the provinces are all onside.

If Brad Wall is a veto point for federal action on climate change, that fact alone will prevent any target from ever being set. And we should expect a national leader to ensure that Canada as a whole makes and keeps commitments by applying federal authority where necessary - not to take the position that national standards and commitments are limited to what the worst of our premiers will accept.

Simply put, there are two unequivocally wrong answers among Canada's three main parties when it comes to climate change. And if voters don't realize that fact, then we may once again bear the shame of being a major obstacle in our most important global policy fight.

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