“Dire Warning” means really DIRE!

A  Globe & Mail headline for a front page article on the latest UN Climate Change Report released by the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) described it as a “Dire Warning”.  The Globe found those words so alarming that it has withdrawn them from its online database of published articles.

In our opinion “Dire Warning” was appropriate to characterize a key conclusion in the Report:

 “. . . without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe widespread and irreversible impacts globally.”

The Report will be the basis for UN-sponsored negotiations in Paris scheduled for December 2015. It is critical that UN member countries negotiate an agreement to reduce emissions at that meeting.

The article quotes Matthew Paterson, a University of Ottawa professor whose speciality is the politics of climate change.  He notes that Canada supports the conclusions in the Report because it calculates that doing so will not curtail its freedom to negotiate at the 2015 meeting.

Canada has demonstrated on several occasions that world agreement on climate change is not a priority. Consider Canada’s record!

  • Canada signed the Kyoto Convention but failed to reduce GHG emissions as Kyoto required.
  • Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Convention altogether, the first country to do so.
  • At Copenhagen in 2009 our Conservative Government committed to a new reduction target.  Canada won’t make it:  we are too busy ramping up the output from the tar sands.

Why does Canada take such positions on climate change?  Because the necessity of agreement on reduction of GHG emissions carries such little weight in Canadian domestic politics.  The Federal Conservatives believe that international issues of this sort will not be key to their success in next year’s Federal election.

At Paris the our present Government (assuming it is re-elected) will pay lip service to the need for agreement, trusting that there will be other nations who are not prepared to agree on sharing the necessary reductions.

Should the Paris meeting result in failure, Canada will deflect criticism by pointing the finger at those other countries.  In addition, the Federal Government will also rely on its stock excuses that:

Firstly, actions to avoid climate disaster should be the primary responsibility of other countries who are big emitters and not Canada, as we only contribute 2% of the world’s emissions,  and

Secondly, fossil fuels are too important to our economy.

The Washington-based World Resource Institute has a clear view of what is required at Paris 2015:

“Climate change is a problem of the global commons, and, therefore, every individual, company, and country needs to participate in its solution.”

Canada will be there but its participation will be negative.

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