Canada, the G8 and climate change

As the leaders of the developed nations meet this week in Kobe, Japan, the environmental community has again called on Canada’s Prime Minister and Environment Minister to adopt firm targets to reduce Canada’s net greenhouse gas emissions to at least 25% below the 1990 level in 2020 and 80% below the 1990 level in 2050. (See the letter signed by 24 Canadian environmental and development groups, including Nature Canada).

However, I was disappointed yet again to see the headlines in today’s Globe and Mail. Canada has joined the resistance to targets, opting instead to wait tell the next United Nations meeting in Copenhagen.

This country has shown a remarkable lack of leadership on developing a credible plan to address climate change. There is no doubt that the issue is complex and solutions are equally complex. But wasting time, further delays and more excuses about China and India will not make things any simpler. If anything, the more we delay the more costly and complex tackling the problem will be.

Climate change is one of the issues that requires politicians to think ahead and address now, before the worst effects are felt, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that we all depend on.

It requires leadership.

Often when I listen to the debates on this issue it seems to come back to a trade-off between the economy and the environment. I find this argument completely false and misleading. The economy is intimately linked to and dependant on the environment. Without a healthy environment and the ecosystem services it provides there is no economy. It is not an either/or debate.