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