Weak, Ineffective Government Policies Behind Canada’s Low Ranking On Environment

In 2009, Canada was at the bottom of 57 industrialized countries in the Climate Change Performance Index (only  Saudi Arabia was ranked lower). A ranking of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries by environmental record places Canada at the bottom, ranking 24th out of 25 countries, ahead of only the United States. The top ranking countries are Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

In a new study conducted by Simon Fraser University and the David Suzuki Foundation that examines the reasons behind Canada’s poor environmental record shows that weak government policies are behind Canada’s poor environmental record, not the country’s cold climate and large size. The news release states:

The study is one of the first ever to examine the reasons for Canada’s poor environmental performance. Factors such as Canada’s cold climate, large size, and heavy reliance on natural resource industries were examined and found that none explain Canada’s poor performance.

“The traditional explanations for Canada’s poor performance are simply not valid,” says Dr. Thomas Gunton, lead author of the study. “These so-called natural disadvantages are offset by a major natural advantage we have over other countries — the availability of low polluting hydro power.”

The research shows that if Canada’s environmental policies were strengthened to the level in other developed countries such as Sweden and Denmark, Canada’s environmental ranking would move from 24th to 1st.

So what are we waiting for?  It’s the 21st Century – let’s move towards the future with hope, secure in the knowledge that we are being good stewards of this beautiful country. We need to formalize in government policies the reality that endless growth is not possible on a finite planet. Nor is endlessly pouring toxins into our environment possible without paying a high price sooner or later. Right now, there are 170 square kilometres of toxic tailing ponds sitting in Alberta’s boreal forest, generated by the dirtiest project on earth, the tar sands. Where, oh where, are politicians and leaders with vision?


Canada’s Cold Climate No Excuse For Poor Environmental Record.

The full report, “The Maple Leaf in the OECD” is available by clicking on the title.

0 thoughts on “Weak, Ineffective Government Policies Behind Canada’s Low Ranking On Environment”

  1. We’re bad and we don’t seem any close from improving. As long as the US energy policy is going to rely on fossil fuels, we’re screwed. We’ll keep digging into the tar sands until we make it in hell…

  2. As long as we have Harper as PM, we’re screwed – and the Libs are pretty tied to Big Oil as well. And now, after the BP spill, the Alberta goverment and Jim Prentice, our esteemed environment minister, are touting the tar sands as a “cleaner” alternative. Yikes!
    There are some campaigns that have the potential to have some impact, like the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Sierra Club’s “Dirty Oil Sands”. It’s an uphill battle, though. But inaction doesn’t feel like a viable option at this point.

  3. The only bit of short-term hope I can see is a Liberal-NDP merge to get a consistent party with a soul. Or maybe if the leaders of the Greens start to figure out this is a nice time to get going and speak out.

  4. There are interesting rumblings in the ranks of progressive Liberals about how to turn around their abysmal showing in the polls these days, but I can’t see an official merger happening anytime soon. Maybe a coalition after an election – want to bet Harper calls one this fall? Of course, that would mean the Climate Accountability Act, Bill C311, dies AGAIN and Canada remains a laggard in addressing climate change. *heavy sigh*
    As for the Greens, it looks like Elizabeth May has a good chance of getting elected (after her incredibly dumb riding choice last time), and possibly one more Green MP. It would be great to have her in Parliament, I’d like to see her take on the Old Boys Club.


Leave a Comment