By Ryan McGreal
Published May 01, 2007
There's no polite way to say this: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his offensive blocker John Baird, and the party strategists and corporate backers whom they serve are helping to condemn millions of people around the world to despair, abject misery and death.
Even worse, they're by no means alone among governments in doing this.
The Guardian's George Monbiot, one of the few voices in the mainstream media advocating urgently for a public climate change policy that will actually make a difference, has issued another devastating j'accuse in his latest column, titled, "The rich world's policy on greenhouse gas now seems clear: millions will die".
A recent paper in the journal Climatic Change emphasises that the sensitivity of global temperatures to greenhouse gas concentrations remains uncertain. But if we use the average figure, to obtain a 50% chance of preventing more than 2C of warming requires a global cut of 80% by 2050.
This is a cut in total emissions, not in emissions per head. If the population were to rise from 6 billion to 9 billion between now and then, we would need an 87% cut in global emissions per person. If carbon emissions are to be distributed equally, the greater cut must be made by the biggest polluters: rich nations like us. The UK's emissions per capita would need to fall by 91%.
However, no government has even committed to anything near that target, let alone actually taken the steps to meet that commitment.
In Canada, the feckless federal government has given up even the pretense of taking climate change seriously with their abandonment of our already-gaseous Kyoto commitment and support for feckless voluntary frameworks.
Instead of taking the lead - some lead, any lead - on what is shaping up to be the single biggest struggle of the twenty-first century, the Harper government continues to blow smoke up our collective asses with its latest round of FUD.
This is the party that spent the past decade and a half opposing Kyoto, denying climate change and resisting any attempt to be proactive. The Liberals did precious little about climate change during their twelve years in power, but on winning last year's election, the Conservatives canceled even those mediocre efforts.
Now they've repackaged those canceled programs, bundled them with some loose regulations and long timelines, and claimed it's the best we can do.
Meanwhile, Canada falls farther behind in its rail infrastructure, continues to build sprawling, car-dependent, single-family houses on local farmland, and continues to invest in the appallingly destructive Alberta Tar Sands, Harper's home turf and financial base.Canada cannot do its part to save the lives of those millions of people who will be victims of climate change until it decarbonizes its economy. That means no more Tar Sands and no more automobile suburbs.
Anything less is just, to borrow a cliché that has grown painfully tired over the past decade, re-shuffling the deck chairs on the Titatinc.
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