EU Urges Canada to Address Climate Change: “There is A Real Threat To Our Survival”

Once again, Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper (whose father was an oil company executive)  is shown up as an international laggard in acting on climate change.  The President of the European Union, José Manuel Barroso is now calling Harper on his government’s inaction on this crucial issue:

Canada shouldn’t keep waiting for the rest of the world to act on climate change before making its own changes, the president of the European Union Commission said Wednesday as he prepared to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Brussels.

“We should not lose momentum regarding climate change negotiations,” José Manuel Barroso told Canadian reporters during an hour-long briefing.

“With Canada, I’m not going to give lessons to one of our partners. What we want is for everybody to move.

“What we don’t want to see, frankly speaking, is that someone does not move because the others don’t move.”

Barroso said the matter is pressing enough to require immediate political action, despite the economic toll that might result from measures to reduce carbon emissions, which a large body of research has linked to global warming…

“In Europe, we believe, according to science, that there is a real threat to our survival as a civilization. And for the future of our planet and the quality of life of our children … I think we have to move.”

Click here to read the full story on

However, the good news is that the three opposition parties – NDP, Liberal, and Bloc Quebecois – are working together to pass Bruce Hyer’s private member’s bill, Bill C311 “The Climate Accountability Act”.  Despite the Conservative’s attempts to derail the bill, it is going for its third and final vote in the House of Commons this afternoon.  To encourage the three parties to continue to support the bill today, click here. Once it has passed in the House, it will also have an uphill battle in the Senate.  But that’s a battle for another day!

This picture sums up Harper’s approach to climate change:

Parliament in Canada Votes on Bill C311, Climate Change Accountability Act

The following is a guest posting by Cathy Orlando, a climate change activist from Sudbury, Ontario, who was trained by Al Gore several years ago. It is a reposting from The Green

On Wednesday April 14, 2010 Bill C311, The Climate Change Accountability Act,  goes for third and final reading in Canada’s House of Commons.

Here is the science of climate change in three numbers:

  • 350 ppm is the safe amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Above this level, the planet is at grave risk for global climate collapse for our grandchildren (1).
  • 391.06 ppm is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now.
  • 770 ppm is the amount of carbon dioxide that will be in the atmosphere by 2100 under the Copenhagen Accord

Thus, the world leaders in December 2009 in Copenhagen came up with a climate change plan that will condemn future generations to live on planet where sea levels will rise, there will be mass migrations and people won’t know where to live or grow food. This translates to: there be global wars for future generations (2).

The highlights of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act (3) include:

  • – require our government to use science to guide climate change policy in Canada
  • – hold our government legally accountable to follow our international legal obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, unlike what they did for the Kyoto Protocol which was an internationally and legally binding agreement (4) (5) (6)

An argument that you may hear regarding Bill C311 is that limiting greenhouse gas emissions will collapse the economy. Please read Paul Krugman’s 10 page New York Times article this week and then see how well this argument holds (7). Who are you going to trust with regards to climate change policy and economics? A political party with much of its power base in the oil industry or Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.

Another argument is that we need to synchronize our climate policy with the US because they are our biggest trading partner. I agree with this argument because there will be trade barriers. However, why can’t Canada take the lead on climate change policy on this continent?

What are the chances of Bill C311 of passing through third reading this week in Parliament? It’s not looking good. There are rumours that the Liberals are not going to support Bill C311.

What can you do? If you are Canadian and live in a riding with a Conservative or Liberal MP, please contact them NOW. There is not much time. Politely ask parliamentarians to either support Bill C311 or give solid explanations to you of what is wrong with Bill C311.

That is your right. Find your MP here:

If you live in an NDP riding especially Northern Ontario you may want to contact:
Anthony Rota, MP Liberal North Bay and Caucus Chair – 705-474-3700

Finally if you are not Canadian please phone or fax the Canadian Embassy In Washington
Tel: 1 (202) 682-1740
Fax: 1 (202) 682-7726

When all is said and done, there will come a day when your children ask you, “What did you do during the time of the climate crisis?” What are you going to say?

1) A safe Operating Space for Humanity (24 September 2009) Johan Rockström et al Nature461, 472-475

2) Climate Change and Security. Royal United Services Institute


4) Green Groups sue Tories over missed Kyoto targets (2007)

5) UN to probe Canada over lack of Greenhouse Gas reporting (2008)

6) Climate change, Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and the rule of law. (March 17, 2010) Diane Saxe

7) Building a Green Economy (April 5, 2010) Paul Krugman

Calling Prime Minister Harper On Climate Change

I just found this great video on the Facebook site “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament”, and traced it back to the  blog “I Phone The Prime Minister of Canada Everyday” right here on  Check out this hilarious video that blogger Hinson Calabrese from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia recorded, and then head to his blog for more.  It’s wonderful political commentary and a call to political action at the same time:

An Open Letter to the Canadian Opposition Parties

This week, Canadians and the rest of the world found out that the Conservative minority government is considering allowing the oil and gas industry in Canada to significantly increase emissions in the next decade, rather than cut emissions. Here is what CBC, which broke this story, reported on Monday:

For example, the proposal suggests that the oil and gas industry would have to cut 15 megatonnes of emissions, rather than 48 megatonnes under its Turning the Corner plan.

It also says projected growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands in northern Alberta will be 165 per cent by 2020 and proposes to cut that growth — not emissions — by 10 per cent.

This is a really BIG deal. This minority government, with strong ties to Alberta’s oil barons, is abusing its position to sacrifice Canada’s future for short-term financial gain. As I quoted yesterday, “real Conservatives would be working to conserve all that is good about Canada, not just rich people’s money”.  If Canadians understood what this policy means for us and our children, there would be rioting in the streets. There is NO WAY that we would stand for it.

It is the role of the opposition parties to oppose government policies and let Canadians know how these policies will impact us. Yet where are those opposition voices on this, the most crucial issue that Canadians will ever have to deal with? Our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, hangs in the balance. Canadians are an intelligent, caring bunch. None of us would support a policy or a government that threatened our children’s health and happiness. Where are the voices that should be telling us this?

Micheal Ignatieff seems to be missing in action. Mr. Ignatieff, the Liberals are not going to win a landslide in Alberta anyway – your party is ideally situated to be voicing strong opposition to this dirty Alberta tar sands and the weak Conservative climate policy that they are responsible for.

Mr. Layton – where is a strong NDP voice on this? Your party should be standing for the average Canadian – the vast majority of us don’t work in the oil and gas sector. Why haven’t we heard a lot more about Bill C-377, The Climate Change Accountability Act? This was your private member’s bill, and according to your website:

Today, with the passage of NDP Leader Jack Layton’s private member’s bill, The Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-377), Canada’s House of Commons has become the first elected chamber in the world to adopt science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, from 1990 levels, by 2050.

“This is a world first,” said Layton. “Our legislation sets tough but achievable targets that will ensure Canada does its share to avoid the dangerous two-degree increase in average global temperature that scientists warn us about.”

Yet this bill was passed a year and a half ago – the Harper government is ignoring it, and Canadians aren’t hearing anything about this. Please, educate us about this bill and hold the government’s feet to the fire. They are ignoring the majority-determined will of Parliament.

And Elizabeth May – why, oh why, did you run in an unwinnable riding in the last election? We badly need your intelligent and articulate voice in Parliament on this issue. It looks like you have a better chance in the next election – godspeed!

While the Afghan detainee issue that is dominating the news and parliament hill these days is important, and the government should be held accountable, how much more important is this issue? Opposition parties, wake up! Please LEAD in this issue – Canadians are desperate for a strong voice in this, whether or not they realize it.

Canada Unable to Formulate Its Own Climate Policy

Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice appeared on CBC Radio’s “The Current” with guest host Susan Ormiston this morning.  He kept repeating the now standard Conservative mantra that Canada can’t do anything until the U.S. takes definitive action on capping its emissions and adopting green technology.  This brings into question our nation’s sovereignty.  Although Canada has always had the U.S. elephant as our neighbour, it hasn’t deterred us from taking independent stances in the past.  Mr. Prentice and Mr Harper just need to look into the Progressive Conservative Party’s history – whether it is former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s leadership role in curbing acid rain emissions or former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s refusal of nuclear arms for Canada.  If either of these Conservative leaders had taken the present Conservative Prime Minister’s stance of letting the Americans take the lead, our country would be a very different place.

To hear the whole interview, click here and go to Part 1 of today’s program.

In other coverage leading up to Copenhagen, Robert J. Kennedy Jr. wrote an interesting commentary in the Huffington Post yesterday on “The New Arms Race”.  In the article, Mr. Kennedy asserts that the Chinese are now spending as much on green energy technologies as on the military.  38 % of the recent Chinese stimulus package went to renewable energy, in comparison with just 12% of the U.S. stimulus package.  (Here in Canada, the Conservative government designated a whopping 8 % of the stimulus package to renewables in last January’s budget).

Also in yesterday’s Huffington Post, James Hoggan asserts that the climate denial industry should foot the bill for delayed action on addressing climate change (see my post yesterday on the CBC coverage of this issue). The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently announced that every year of delayed action to address climate change will add $500 Billion to the price tag of saving the planet.