Fun In The Sun – COP 16 Cancun

Environment Minister John Baird

The House, CBC Radio December 11, 2010

Direct Quotes – In Italics

When I started this blog, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have anything to write about. On reflection, I guess that I needn’t have worried. The government of the day, regardless of party, is always good for a topic. You just have to be paying attention. Today, while doing the dishes, I happened to catch our current Minister of Environment on CBC Radio. I have transcribed several quotes that I will parse for you to see if we can figure out exactly what it is that we are supposed to learn from this interview.

Technology, which is obviously the biggest hope in the battle against climate change.

Ah yes, the Hail Mary pass of technology. Technology is interesting. It is like the “box of chocolates” from Forrest Gump. You never know what you are going to get. It is not like you can simply put in a request for a high EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) gadget that will allow business as usual without any climate impacts. The most interesting technologies come from basic research and you rarely get results in the field that you are researching in. Coupling this fantasy with the word “hope” is brilliant, since hope is wishing for something that you have no control over. Why would you do that when there is a very clear and apparent solution right in front of you? Cut emissions. Unless of course, as the Minister in charge of making sure that the “Environment” never threatens your masters, you cannot take the easy way out and actually implement policies that would consign the oil, coal and natural gas companies to the dustbin of history. Rather short sighted if you ask me, as they are inevitably heading there anyways.

We have other priorities, health care, education, law enforcement.

When asked why Canada has offered so little to the countries most effected he offers this up, making us think that there would be no money for any of these societal supports. The fact that as one of the richest countries in the world is that we do have enough resources to fully fund education and health care, especially if we back off on dumping more money into law enforcement. In reality, and I do realize that most politicians have little experience with it, crime in Canada is actually dropping and we should be looking at cutting budgets, not increasing them. Put the money saved into cleaning up toxic waste sites and you would gain the benefit of cutting health care spending in the future.

“At a rate of 7,518 reported incidents per 100,000 people, the crime rate in 2006, the latest year for which there is statistics, was the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years.[1] The crime rate has been in general decline since 1991.” – Wikipedia

Since Kyoto, emissions in both developed and developing economies are way up.

OK, I am going to have to pull an actual Captain Obvious here and simply point out a couple of things.

“The Canadian Conservative government elected in January 2006 says that the Kyoto Protocol targets are unrealistic and unachievable.” – About.Com Canada Online.

Now this isn’t so bad, as the Liberals had obviously not done a damn thing in the preceding four years since signing the Accord. I can see that getting stuck with this mess wasn’t really fair to the Conservatives. But such is life.

“CBC reports that 40 percent of the climate change budgets at Environment Canada and Natural Resources have been cut. Programs cut include the One Tonne Challenge, a high-profile public education campaign on climate change, and the popular EnerGuide Retrofit Incentive Program of grants to help make Canadian homes more energy-efficient.” – (2006) About.Com Canada Online.

That makes it pretty clear to me that the government really doesn’t give a rats ass about controlling emissions or doing one bit more than they must. If Canada, a country with an actual good reputation on the international stage, one of fairness and a willingness to do our part for the planet and humanity cannot find the creativity or the vision to lead the world on the issues of climate change and resource depletion, then what hope is there to get the Burmas and the Saudi Arabias of the world on board? This issue needs action, not more dodging, not more posturing.

We won’t be able to stabilize emissions by 2015 unless we get all of the big players around the table.

Look, due to the Bush Administration, the United States showed a typical lack of “team player” on this issue. And China is China. But think of it like this: Just because your peer group are idiots doesn’t mean you should be too. Either start coming up with solutions or get out of the way. We don’t have time to waste any longer. The party is over, the parents are home, it is time to start making adult decisions and it is time to take action.

If the goal is to get an agreement that is legally binding and that will see emissions freeze and then go down, you can’t do that without all of the big players participating.

Seems to me that the goal was a reduction in emissions. When did we change the goal exactly? If the goal was to sign a document to force you to do the right thing and that goal has been stymied, why not just do the right thing? Why insist on getting all of the kids on the playground to do the right thing too before you will act? Why weasel out of Kyoto? Just come out and tell us. Tell us about economics, about jobs, about all of the talking points that aren’t about doing the right thing. As for the economy and jobs? Why not exercise some creativity and come up with something unique and of value to society instead of doing all you can to keep things exactly the same?

While the oil sands are a source of growing emissions in Canada they are a tiny percentage of the emissions from coal in the Unites States.

If anyone actually falls for this… well, it is just really weak. This is like saying “Yes, I am a child molester. But look at all the other child molesters that live here. They molested more children than I ever did. Look at them, they are the bad people, over there.” Comparing the governments own inaction on the tar sands and the Athabasca RiverĀ  to another government with an even worse record than ours is actually a really weak argument.

We want an agreement that will see emissions reduced.

Why not just honour our signed commitment and implement Kyoto? Perfectly good signed international commitment, right there. Again, enough with the delays. I get it that politics, the “we need campaign funding and cushy exit jobs from somewhere” kind exists in the world, but when you are holding the livelihoods of over thirty million people in your hands, you need to stop representing the top 1% in this country and start worrying about the other 99% you are supposed to be serving.

We will stay focused on crime.

Why not? Its easier to sell than real solutions to the real problems that Canadians are facing.

As it ever was…

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