Monday, November 16, 2009

Harper And Harpies: Happy On Doing Nothing About Climate Change

Of course they are - given their atrocious, abysmal record so far on this critical matter.

And as usual, they blame first and foremost so-called emerging economies (i.e. India, China, et al.) for being the major holdovers of any emission reduction deal. Even worse, they keep playing the usual childish card - dixit our Prime Poseur himself (emphasis added):
"Our message is that all major economies have to be included," he said.

"If everyone is not included, you set up the possible risk that certain countries will gain economic advantage," he said, adding "... if some contribute, or some contribute disproportionately, then the economic risks for others become enormous."

And oh yeah - "we can't just start doing something about climate change because, you know, there's this big recession we're in right now" - again, the typical "going green will kill the economy" phony excuse ever promoted by Harper and his Harpies ... right from day one they took office and ever since then. Well, Q.E.D. once again (emphasis added):
"We're in the middle of an economic recession," Harper acknowledged. "And obviously everybody is also concerned about the impact of that on their economies."

Harper has long argued that environmental goals must be balanced with economic sustainability. His government rejected the Kyoto accord on the basis that it was simply too costly and too punishing for the economy.
What frauds.

Hence, the APEC meeting ended with ... a trade agreement. Climate change? Looks like there is now frantic backtracking on previous, vaporous commitments (emphasis added):
APEC leaders (are) backing off earlier plans that would have committed member countries to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 – a pledge similar to that attempted by the G8.

(...) Drafts of APEC's closing communiqué obtained by Reuters shows that earlier wording that obliged members to curb emissions by 50 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, had been replaced with softer, vaguer wording.

The pertinent paragraph now reads, "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050."
Even better yet (emphasis added):
At the close of the summit on Sunday, the leaders released a statement that abandoned the idea of specific emission-reduction targets or even "aspirational goals," the term once used by APEC leaders.

The communiqué only said that leaders had agreed to phase out "over the medium term" fossil fuel subsidies. No timeline accompanied that statement. In the end, the leaders promised they would work "towards an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen."
Yeah, right. Don't hold your breath on this one (emphasis added):
On Dec. 7, representatives from Canada and 191 other countries begin meeting in Denmark to try to reach a new international accord on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice, an experienced negotiator, insisted on leaving nothing to chance (...).

Unfortunately, the whole exercise now appears to have been for naught.

With only three weeks to go to the opening cocktails at Copenhagen, the supposedly historic negotiation to save the planet is already being written off as an 11-day exercise in futility.

Officially, Stephen Harper's government is sticking to the party line that "Canada intends to play an active and constructive role with a view to achieving an effective and fair agreement" for fighting climate change. But even the ordinarily optimistic Prentice now spends his time trying to lower public expectations, clearly convinced nothing of much substance will come from the hot-air summit.

"It doesn't look promising," he said recently with evident understatement.

Earlier this month, Michael Martin, Canada's chief climate-change negotiator, admitted "we are clearly a long way from a treaty."

A senior federal official puts it more bluntly, saying the only strategy occupying the war room these days is "how to get in and out of Copenhagen without being blamed for what's not going to happen."

(...) For the past year, Prentice and his officials have been meeting with their counterparts in 15 other countries representing major economies which are collectively responsible for more than 75% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal was to reach a unified position going into next month's environmental summit to ensure none would be put at economic risk.

So far, the main agreement among them seems to be that nothing much of any consequence is going to happen at Copenhagen.

(...) Earlier this month, representatives from all 192 countries met for the last time before Copenhagen and left with a draft climate-change agreement that still has more than 400 major points of disagreement. All of which is bringing quiet sighs of relief inside the Harper government.

A tough stand by the U.S. at Copenhagen in favour of strict emission-reduction targets would have forced Canada to fall in line with potentially harsh economic consequences, especially in the Alberta oil patch.

(...) Instead, Copenhagen is shaping up to be such a monumental bust that Prentice is now saying he is going there "to defend Canada's interests."

Off camera, Canadian officials are predicting Copenhagen will be 11 days of talking leading to an agreement to keep talking some more next year.
I hereby agree fully with the following:
"Mr. Harper's government is taking a wait-and-see approach and not doing anything in terms of specific actions to make a difference".

"Stephen Harper is using this as an excuse to avoid internalizing into the cost of the tarsands oil, for example, internalizing the cost of the greenhouse gas emissions, and we're going to continue skewing our economy and it's a huge mistake for future generations".
Aye. We're a long way indeed from a binding, legal treaty on climate change, sayeth our Prime Poseur. And never mind that Canada stands among the biggest defaulters on previously signed and ratified, binding, legal obligations outlined in the Kyoto Protocols (r.i.p.) - a treaty which Harper and his Harpies help kill.

In the meantime, our Prime Poseur continues his policy of being all (self-promoting) talk in the matter of climate change. As usual.

Remember this little gem of self-serving hypocrisy from June 2007? (emphasis added)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told (...) that Canada won't meet its Kyoto targets to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but can be a world leader in battling climate change.
Running in circles around climate change ... all the while being quite happy at doing nothing about it.

Canada: being taken seriously, all right. Canada's back as a player on the world stage, fucking indeed.

All thanks to our incompetent Prime Poseur and his cronies.

(Addendum: MoS has more on this, published yesterday, and so does RedBedHead - both of which I missed ... my bad)


  1. Harper is actually taking a very active role in the global climate change debate. He's doing everything in his power to scuttle any chance of an agreement that's effective, binding and enforceable. In fact, if you really parse Harper's statements, it's plain that he wants a deal that most of the world has already rejected.

    Here's the problem. Consider GHG emissions from the perspective of a global atmosphere with very finite carrying capacity. Mankind is already working on the last half of that. There are only so many more billions of tonnes of CO2 that the atmosphere can handle before we reach the tipping point of runaway, catastrophic climate change.

    But while there may be a dwindling, finite atmospheric capacity remaining, the question is how is that to be allocated? We in the West have been disproportionately responsible for the current emissions levels and, while people like Harper won't say it, many in the West want the lion's share of the remaining capacity too.

    Harper's position talks about across-the-board emissions cuts. He wants this handled on a national basis - 50% for Canada, 50% for China for example. His approach looks at each nation's overall emissions and that's it. Very simple and deceitfully simplistic.

    Angela Merkel's climate change advisory council wants to adopt the approach favoured by the developing and Third World - per capita emissions. This approach says let's take the remaining carrying capacity and allocate it per capita. Sounds very attractive to Third World nations whose people have very small carbon footprints but it's absolutely horrific for advanced nations whose people have ginormous carbon footprints, nations like Canada.

    You see, if this per capita position prevails, it leaves Canada with pretty much one choice - we'll have to massively and very quickly decarbonize our economy and our society. That's not good news if you're a Tar Sander or a major domo in Calgary's oil patch club.

    Of course this impact would also be felt just as heavily south of the border and it's all but inconceivable that America's bought and paid for Congress would ratify such a treaty. Unfortunately the United States is the cork in the bottle. Without Washington on side there is no deal to be had, at least no deal that's effective, binding and enforceable.

    What you're going to get is a token treaty, an agreement based on vague promises of cap and trade cuts that will probably turn into swindles.

    When it comes to climate change treaties, it's like pregnancy - you either are or you aren't. We either come up with a deal - equitable, effective, binding and enforceable - or we're just flapping our gums and falling back on empty gestures. I'm convinced we've already chosen Door B.

    The really insidious aspect to Harper's position is that he wants to "lock in" our priority claim to the balance of the atmosphere's carbon carrying capacity. His approach freezes the relative emissions balance as it stands today. If you're creating X per cent of today's emissions and everyone becomes bound to a 50% reduction, you'll still be producing X per cent of the overall lowered emissions. It's a scam and nobody except Canadians and Americans are stupid enough to fall for it.

    Time is not on our side. Climate wars are already underway and more are poised to come. We can't even begin to address what that means in the context of China, India and Pakistan; large tracts of Africa; South and Central America.

    Oh well, it always was so much easier to take lives than to save them.

  2. When climate change came for the icecaps we did nothing... When it came for us...

  3. MoS: "Harper is actually taking a very active role in the global climate change debate. He's doing everything in his power to scuttle any chance of an agreement that's effective, binding and enforceable. In fact, if you really parse Harper's statements, it's plain that he wants a deal that most of the world has already rejected." I agree fully - as well as with your thorough analysis.

    TPM: heh - exactly.


Please feel free to comment on APOV. However, remember to keep in check your tone and respect for all here. Let rational, reasoning, enthousiastic and passionate conversations and discussions rule first and foremost in our participatory democracy, so as to facilitate the free exchange of reality-based facts and ideas. In between, do not forget to have fun and enjoy yourselves ... in other words: keep on rockin'! - Mentarch