In the first five days of Copenhagen, Canada has won a lot of awards. Only these are not positive awards for good and constructive behavior, but so-called ‘fossil awards’ given to the countries that most impede progress at Copenhagen by the environmental organization, Climate Action Network (CAN).
In total Canada has won far more ‘fossil awards’ than any other country this week. They have received first (or worst) place twice, second place once, and third place once. In addition, they have also been awarded an additional first and second place as part of a group, i.e. industrialized non-EU nations. There are 192 countries at Copenhagen, but Canada has walked away with over a third of the awards.
Today, the mayor of Toronto, David Miller accepted Canada’s many awards—termed the ‘casket of shame’—with the statement, “I’m embarrassed to be Canadian”.
Canada has won the many awards for pushing to retire the Kyoto Protocol, which places separate responsibilities on industrial nations (like Canada) and developing nations when combating climate change; for attempting to move the base emission year from 1990 to a more recent year, allowing their emissions target to look better than it is; and for attempting to claim that Canada’s current target of 3 percent below 1990 emissions by 2020 is based on climate science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has called for a reduction of emissions 25-40 percent by 2020.
Canada’s international reputation has taken a beating recently over its stance on climate change. The nation is only country to drop out of the Kyoto Treaty. Its emissions have risen 26 percent since 1990 (10 percent more than the US who never signed onto Kyoto). Currently, Canada has pledged to reduce its emissions by 20 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels (3 percent from 1990 levels), saying that it will move lockstep with the United States on climate change.
Many believe the reason for Canada’s unwillingness to ambitiously confront climate change is because of its tar sands industry. The extraction of oil from the tar sands is energy intensive and leaves a carbon footprint that some say is the largest industrial source of carbon emissions in the world: 40 million tons of greenhouse gases every year.
(12/08/2009) While tens of thousands of protestors have gone to Copenhagen to call on world governments to do more to fight against climate change, the most surprising protest on the first day of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen occurred thousands of miles away: in Canada.
(12/07/2009) Canada’s tar sands have been internationally criticized as one of the world’s largest industrial sources of greenhouse gases, but the energy-intensive extraction of oil also has a less-noted impact on the local environment. A new study shows that the Alberta’s oil sands are likely releasing more PACs (polycyclic aromatic compounds) into nearby Athabasca River and its tributaries than the industry-funded and government-supported Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) has reported.
(12/02/2009) In 2007 American delegates to a climate summit in Bali were booed outright for obstructing a global agreement on climate change. Then in a David versus Goliath moment they were famously scolded by a negotiator from Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad. “If for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way,” Conrad told the American delegates. However, much has changed in two years: the United States, under a new administration, is no longer the climate change pariah. The US has recently announced emissions cuts, negotiated successfully with China on the issue, and will be attending—Obama included—the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen next week. Obama and his team probably don’t need to worry about being booed or remonstrated this time around, but that role may instead go to Canada.