This principle sounds reasonable – a “long-term focus” is good in climate change, because once we’ve reached the tipping point, we’re going to have changed the climate for good for millennia.
Now what about the rest of the statement: Canada will “contribute” to a goal of a 50% reduction (again, that sounds pretty impressive) in – ah, here’s the catch – “GLOBAL” emissions by 2050. Canada isn’t even agreeing to reduce its own emissions by 50% by 2050. It’s going to “contribute” to a “global” reduction of emissions by 2050. Wow – that’s pretty vague.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada committed to reducing it’s greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels. Under the Liberal governments of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, action on climate change was promised but not delivered. The current Conservative government under Stephen Harper has abandoned Canada’s commitment to this international treaty, with then-Environment Minister Rona Ambrose announcing in 2006 that Canada would have no chance of meeting its Kyoto targets. Now the Harper government has confused the issue even more by changing the base year for cutting emissions to 2006 rather than 1990 (the base year for the Kyoto Protocol). This is what Greenpeace has to say about the Canadian government’s emission reduction plan:
The Harper government introduced its “Turning the Corner” plan for dealing with climate change in 2007.This plan is far too weak. The targets are not science-based. They are arbitrary, based on political expediency.
The Harper plan calls for a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. It seeks to deliberately confuse Canadians by using 2006 as its base year, instead of 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol.
Harper’s proposed 20 per cent reduction from the 2006 level is less than 3 per cent below the 1990 level—and far less than the KYOTOplus target of at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels.The Harper plan would not even reach Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target by 2020—eight years after the Kyoto deadline of 2012.
Let’s not forget that it was Stephen Harper who called the Kyoto Protocol a “socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations”. Since becoming Prime Minister, it seems that Mr. Harper and his cronies have perfected the art of saying something that sounds reasonable and rational for public consumption while carrying on their own personal agenda behind the scenes that Canadians, unless they are extremely well-informed, have no idea about.
Mr Harper and Mr Prentice, here’s what “long-term focus” is:
350 is the most important number on the planet…
… it’s not as if we have a choice. The most useful thing about having a number is that it forces us to grow up, to realize that the negotiations that will happen later this fall in Copenhagen aren’t really about what we want to do, or what the Chinese want to do, or what Exxon Mobil wants to do. They’re about what physics and chemistry want to do: the physical world has set its bottom line at 350, and it’s not likely to budge.
Almost every month brings new data showing that Hansen et al were very nearly spot on with their original estimate. In early summer a British team demonstrated that coral reefs won’t survive acidified waters unless we get co2 concentrations back down below 360 ppm. Last month, in a cover story in the journal Nature, a European-led team identified nine “planetary boundaries,” the most important of which was probably that same 350 ppm line for carbon. Above it, they said, we would run the risk of “threatening the ecological life-support systems that have developed in the late Quaternary environment, and would severely challenge the viability of contemporary human societies.” The name of the article: “A Safe Operating Space for Humanity.” That’s what we’re talking about. (Bill McKibben, 350.org)