A Fact Sheet from Environment Canada’s website states that Canada’s approach to climate change is based on 5 principles. This is the first one:
#1: Balancing environmental protection and economic prosperity.
The Canadian government under PM Stephen Harper has consistently put forward the message that tackling climate change will damage Canada’s economy. Previous Liberal governments under Chretien and Martin didn’t state this as overtly as Harper did, but it was implied by their inaction on this issue. In January 2010 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Harper said that there are economic consequences of going green too quickly:
“A lot of the demands for targets or for actions — whether it’s on developing or developed countries — will have very significant impacts on their economy.”(CBC.ca)
Harper went on to say that short-term emission goals can’t be met without sinking economies, adding that the focus must be on developing new technologies that could reduce emissions down the road. Environment Minister Prentice is also on record as saying that addressing climate change could hurt Canada’s economy. The federal government is also supporting further development of the Alberta tar sands, called the “Dirtiest Project on Earth” by the Council of Canadians. The tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
What Canadians need to understand when our federal government says it is “balancing environmental protection and economic prosperity”, is that it is sacrificing environmental protection and long-term economic prosperity on the altar of short-term economic gain and environmental devastation. Even the small “c” conservative magazine “The Economist” has said:
“Although the benefits of averting that sort of catastrophe are incalculably large, the costs of doing so should not be enormous – as little as 1% of global output, if policy is well designed…This newspaper reckons that the world should fork out, rather as householders spend similar proportions of their income on insuring their homes against disaster.” (Dec 5, 2009, Vol. 393, #8660)
As Spanish PM reminded Harper at the Davos summit:
“Without a concerted effort to find ways to cut emissions “our future is very dark.”