Harper versus World

Elizabeth May
While the media and opposition parties track the really big issues (how many Harper government insiders have dated Julie Couillard?), the Harper government quietly goes about its work – obstructing action on climate change, blocking help for developing countries. In Rome, at the summit to examine the long term threat to the world’s food supply, Canada did not even bother to send a Minister. It left negotiations to our Ambassador in Rome. In the negotiations on biodiversity in Bonn last month, once the Prime Minister had given his speech and left town, Canadian officials blocked progress to protect wild life and wild spaces. On Friday, June 13th, the Harper government was busy again in Bonn and Osaka. Out of the media spotlight, intensive climate negotiations continue for a successor agreement once the first phase of Kyoto ends in 2012. The deadline for a new agreement will be Cop 15, the negotiations planned for Copenhagen in 2009. Next fall the conference will be in Poland. And in between the annual gatherings, many negotiations take place. Last week it was Bonn. The following is from a news release from the Climate Action Network from Canadian environmentalists who were in Bonn:
On Wednesday, Canada joined the US in blocking a review of their commitments to developing countries in relation to the transfer of clean technologies. This review is an important input to the negotiations in Copenhagen, where developing countries are expected to ramp up their efforts to reduce emissions with support from wealthy industrialized countries. Then today,(Friday) Canada almost single-handedly held up progress on the last item to be agreed here in Bonn – a review of the Kyoto Protocol – obtaining concessions that could weaken its future commitments under the Protocol.
Meanwhile in Osaka, the G-8 finance ministers were meeting. This time, the U.S., Japan, and Britain, as well as the head of the World Bank had already held a press conference before Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had arrived. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had joined the call for a Clean Technology Fund. The idea is to create a fund of $10 billion to assist developing countries, such as China and India, move away from dirty coal and toward renewables. China already has ambitious goals for a switch to renewables. The technology fund would be a huge help in getting them there. So far, the Clean Technology Fund has been supported by 40 countries from around the world. That list does not include Canada. Flaherty explained to the Globe and Mail (“Canada under pressure to fund green initiative,” June 14, 2008) that he wasn’t sure it was a good idea. And he wasn’t impressed either with the OECD report that warns that the Harper government’s myopic economic fixation on boosting production in the tar sands, while letting manufacturing and other economic sectors dwindle, is a recipe not only for dangerous levels of climate change, but for economic disaster. Never mind. The Harper government has its head so firmly stuck in the tar sands, it can ignore the world. I just wish Canadians had regular access in our news media to what is going on when this minority Government presses its minority view and damages the chances for our planet, and our children’s future.