Friday, September 22, 2006

Obnoxious emissions

There's plenty of news related to the Cons' take on global warming today, but sadly none indicating that the Cons are any more interested in dealing with the problem than when they started indiscriminately axing programs this spring.

First, there's Gary Lunn's attempt to disavow any connection to a Con riding association meeting which has invited noted anti-environmental propagandist Tim Ball:
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn is distancing himself and his government from a Conservative party gathering in Victoria today featuring a controversial scientist who dismisses warnings about the dangers of climate change.

Retired climatologist Tim Ball, sponsored by the Calgary-based "Friends of Science" group that is partly funded by the energy industry, travels the country arguing global warming presents no threat and could even be good for Canada...

Lunn, a key player along with Environment Minister Rona Ambrose in developing a "Made-in-Canada" alternative to the former Liberal government's plans to adhere to the Kyoto accord, said the Ball event doesn't reflect the party's attitudes.

"Absolutely it does not reflect the views of the party in any way, shape or form," Lunn told CanWest News Service, noting the three riding associations bring in speakers discussing a variety of issues.

"You know, the next speaker will probably be on the other side of the issue."
It's enough to Lunn's discredit that he seems to think that the very existence of global warming is still subject to a meaningful enough debate to justify bringing in speakers from both sides of the issue.

But then, there's no apparent reason to think any voice on the sane side of the issue will be heard at this type of meeting. A cursory look at the website of the group in question suggests that past speakers haven't included a single voice which could be described but to the Con party line or further-right. Though it may be noted that the speakers have included many MPs who would presumably "reflect the party's attitudes".

Which means that Ball can very readily be taken to fit in with the Cons' general attitudes - and that the likelihood of a future speaker in favour of responsible environmental management is slim to none, whether one looks at only the Victoria group's track record or the Cons' own track record of shutting out differing opinions.

Meanwhile, Rona Ambrose is claiming to be interested in dealing with climate change by changing the subject:
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose fired back at critics Thursday, insisting she's engaging other countries to move forward on climate change.

Although environmentalists have accused her of shirking her responsibilities as the chairperson of ongoing international negotiations, Ambrose said she's an active participant who's doing her homework on the file...

Ambrose explained her upcoming domestic plan for Canada would deliver results the population would see.

"Our plan goes beyond Kyoto because the priority for our government is the health of all Quebecers and Canadians and so our plan will attack air pollution and climate change," she said in French.
It's never quite explained how conflating other air pollution with climate change does anything on an international level other than to give other countries a precedent to similarly try to escape any meaningful action. But given that the Cons' entire environmental message has consistently been based on misdirection and wilful omission, it certainly doesn't come as a surprise to see Ambrose continuing the pattern.

Finally, and related to the Cons' lack of meaningful action, today also brought news that the Cons were going to "get tough" on emissions, with just one slight problem:
The Conservative government will force the automotive sector to comply with tough mandatory vehicle-emission requirements, using California's stringent standards as its model...

The Harper government will focus its environmental policy on fighting smog and improving air quality, with less emphasis on reducing greenhouse gases -- largely carbon emissions -- that are at the heart of the Kyoto accord.

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose hinted at the new measures on vehicle emissions in the House of Commons yesterday, saying she is looking at matching the mandatory emissions rules found in some U.S. states.
Now, the move toward reducing automotive emissions would be a plus if it were part of a larger plan which would actually meaningfully reduce emissions nationally. But there's no indication that the Cons plan to do anything more beyond that tiny step - and hints that the Cons are indeed directing the policy elsewhere rather than toward widespread emission reduction.

Which is particularly comical since Ambrose herself spent much of this spring gleefully asserting that in order to reduce emissions enough to meet Canada's Kyoto targets by addressing the transportation sector of the economy alone, we'd have to take "every car, train and bus off the road". After all, there's no apparent reason why the Cons now seem to think that a small reduction in emissions from cars alone starting in 2010 is anything approaching "tough"...and why they haven't considered the obvious implications of their previous sector-specific snark by recognizing the need for broad-based action to actually put a meaningful dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, part of the Cons' refusal to put together any real strategy to reduce emissions may be readily traced to their main supporters:
Even though the government is expected to announce its environmental plan soon, sources say the cabinet has yet to make a final decision on a central question: Namely, how it will address carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and oil and gas sectors.

The most likely scenario currently on the table is that a new Clean Air Act will signal an intent to regulate a host of pollutants, but the time needed to consult industry and the provinces, as well as to pass the act through the Commons and Senate, will likely mean most of the new pollution limits won't take effect for at least two years -- and 2010 for the regulations affecting the auto makers.
In sum, the Cons are once again showing that while they're prepared to cut environmental programs without warning, consultation or thought, they aren't prepared to do anything to replace those programs until years down the road. And even with a timeline built for indefinite delay tactics, they aren't willing to suggest any meaningful action at the end. Which only confirms that despite the Cons' protestations to the contrary, they're still taking the side of Tim Ball and his sponsors against environmental sustainability.

Update: And only the Cons, faced with the above set of stories in the same day, could feel the need to clarify that they haven't even committed to the minor actions reported.

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