World looks askance at Canada’s climate record

Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces some stiff international head winds on Canada’s climate change ambition as he heads to a G7 meeting in Germany next week.World looks askance at Canada’s climate record

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces some stiff international head winds on Canada’s climate change ambition as he heads to a G7 meeting in Germany next week.

Canada is being publicly blasted as a climate laggard in a report co-authored by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, while the government’s chief climate negotiator fielded skeptical questions about Canada’s greenhouse-gas reduction policies at a UN climate conference in Bonn this week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made climate a priority at this year’s G7 summit which begins Sunday, in advance of a UN conference in December that aims to negotiate a new, post-2020 global climate agreement.

Harper will arrive in Germany with plenty of baggage, including a report released Friday by the Africa Progress Panel that lumps Canada in with Australia, Japan and Russia as countries that it says are “effectively withdrawing from constructive engagement on climate.”

“By hedging their bets and waiting for others to move first, some governments are playing poker with the planet and future generations’ lives,” Annan said in a release Friday posted on the Africa Progress Panel web site.

“This is not a moment for prevarication, short-term self-interest and constrained ambition, but for bold global leadership and decisive action.”

The atmosphere is already chilly in Bonn, where Brazil, South Africa, the European Union and the United States were among those seeking more information from Canada’s climate negotiator about whether Canada is doing anything to close the current gap on its 2020 international emissions-reduction target.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Friday the Conservatives are the first Canadian government ever to achieve a net reduction of greenhouse emissions.

Shane Buckingham added that the government has “consistently demonstrated our support for successful international negotiations” while helping finance African climate programs.

That wasn’t the focus of this week’s UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where national emissions targets are tested.

Country after country noted that Canada is not on track to meet its current 2020 goal of reducing GHGs 17 per cent below 2005 levels and several questioned how Canada plans to meet its newly announced 2030 target of a 30-per-cent reduction.

Louise Metivier, an assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada, asserted that “climate change is really important to Canada,” while noting that “continued efforts by provincial and territorial governments will be key to further reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.”

The Harper government announced last month that the 2030 target will be reached in part using “market mechanisms,” widely understood as buying carbon credits. UN members repeatedly asked Metivier for more details Thursday.

It’s too soon to say, she replied.

Metivier asserted that new regulations are being developed in close collaboration with industry and provinces.

That may surprise provincial governments who have complained at the lack of consultation with Ottawa.

The American representative at the UN conference asked specifically about oil and gas sector reductions and “whether Canada’s national government is currently co-operating with the provincial administration in the context of those new regulations?”

Metivier said Canada is investing heavily in clean technologies and that provincial governments hold “many of the levers” on additional climate action.

“As you know, some of them are under very recent new leadership and are reviewing their approach and we expect some policies to be put forward in the very near future,” she said in a nod to Alberta’s new NDP government.

Federal NDP environment critic Megan Leslie said it’s apparent the Conservative government has no plan, but more striking is that the world is publicly calling Canada out.

“Certainly the word out in the international community unofficially is ’where the heck is Canada?”’ Leslie said in an interview.

“But it’s interesting that this report by the Africa Progress Panel actually takes us to task for what we’re not doing.”

Liberal environment critic John McKay predicts Harper will get a rough ride at the G7.

“He is engaging in a game of delusion and deception with the most powerful people on earth,” said McKay. “I think it’s a tragedy and will ultimately end up in Canada being ridiculed once again on the international stage.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read