Over the last decade 4RG has compared the efforts of Canada and Australia to reduce carbon emissions that are the main cause of climate change
These two countries have many similar characteristics;
- they are among the ten largest national territories in the world
- they have enjoyed strong economies for the last 50 years;
- both are large exporters of fossil fuels: Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and Canada exports large quantities of oil and natural gas
- . Australia’s emissions of carbon per capita place it in the top three and Canada is close behind.
- Neither country has taken significant measures over the past decade to reduce its carbon emissions.
When the Australian Labour party formed the Government in 2013, it established a national carbon tax, and proposed a future emissions trading scheme modeled on EU precedent. In the next Federal Election, Australian voters rejected the Labour Party in favour of a liberal, business minded coalition headed by Tony Abbott.
With this change of Government, Australia’s progress towards limits to carbon emissions languished. Instead Abbott summarized what his party supported in these words:
““Coal is good for humanity. . . Energy is what sustains our prosperity, and coal is the world’s principal energy source and it will be for many decades to come.”
Australia and Canada subscribed to the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. But so far Australia’s program for limits to carbon emissions has been ineffective, while Canada found that it did not have the support of several provinces dependent on the fossil fuel industry. In addition, USA, Canada’s Southern trading partner, pulled out of the Paris Accord, undermining any plans then under discussion for North American measures to reduce emissions- between the countries.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific commentator on climate, categorized Australia’s climate reduction proposals as “insufficient” and Canada’s as “highly insufficient”
In the last two years both countries have suffered from severe and uncontrollable forest fires – a consequence of climate change.
IN 2016 Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta was hit by devastating wildfires, at the time the costliest disaster in Canadian history. In the summer of 2018 British Columbia declared a state of emergency in its efforts to combat the most severe forest fires that Province had ever experienced.
Eight years ago, 4RG identified Australia as at risk of devastating forest fires if it did not take measures. As nothing effective was done, Australia was hit by drought and intense heat in 2019-2020. This weather caused many extreme firestorms that have engulfed large areas. These calamities have brought loss of life and extraordinary destruction that looks as if it might continue until the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
4RG extends sympathy to Australia and its people for this incredible happening:
the destruction of huge areas of Forest – including the Blue Mountains, just North of Sydney,
the loss of life, the destruction of many homes, and
the death of thousands of animals and birds, putting some species on the critical list.
Canada has responded to this disaster by sending Forest Fire Experts and Wardens to assist the Australian people in their fight against their extraordinary losses.