Friday, December 4, 2009

By following US, Prentice showing lack of leadership

Jim Prentice announced today that the government's emissions reductions targets will be directly linked to those in the US. Ahead of Copenhagen, Prentice is seeking to evidence a reasonable approach towards climate change, but this is anything but for a variety of reasons.

First of all, the emissions reductions targets in the US are nonexistent at the moment, as Congress has been unable to pass climate change legislation due to its preoccupation with the health care bill. Furthermore, while Obama has proposed a reduction of 17 per cent of emissions by 2020 over 2006 levels, this is still 3 per cent lower than the Conservative government's own targets at the present. If anything, Prentice is using this new strategy of directly linking our targets to American ones to reduce even further the action we're taking.

Secondly, this policy rests on the assumption that sticking to Kyoto targets and establishing similarly stringent targets at Copenhagen will harm the economy. However, this does not square with what we see on the provincial level. In Quebec, Jean Charest has put forward targets of 20 percent under 1990 levels by 2020, significantly lower targets than those of the federal government. Yet their economy has not suffered any of Prentice's dire predictions. Neither have other provinces such as Manitoba.

Jim Prentice may say he wants an agreement in Copenhagen. That may be the case, but it is an agreement that will be inconsequential because of our unwillingness to commit to anything more than what the US is doing. Instead of showing leadership and adding our weight to the pressure the world is making to bear on the US Senate, we have sanctioned whatever they do. Far from being a position of leadership, as Prentice purports, Canada's is that of a wagon that has hitched itself to the American locomotive, wherever it might go, even if it goes off the rails.
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