Thursday, October 19, 2006

No 'clean air' from Ambrose

The Tories just don't get it. Many leading climatologists have warned us that we have at most 10 years to get our act together and deal seriously with climate change.

So how is it that the best we could do here in Canada is three more years of consultations (after we've already been 'consulting' for eons), only 'intensity-based' targets, and no real cuts to GHG emissions until some time after 2020???

Here is the section of the Notice of Regulatory Intent that lays out the timeline for the so-called targets [our comments in brackets]:

Short-term (2010-2015)

* For air pollutants: the Government intends to adopt a target-setting approach based on fixed caps. [As predicted earlier in this blog.]
* For GHGs: the Government intends to adopt a target-setting approach based on emissions intensity, one that will yield a better outcome for the Canadian environment than under the plan previously proposed on July 16, 2005 and show real progress on the environment here in Canada. [Such lovely spin!]

Medium-term (2020-2025) [What's happening from 2016-2019? Apparently we're just twiddling our thumbs for 4 years!]

* For air pollutants: the Government will continue to employ a fixed cap approach to target-setting.
* For GHGs: the Government will build upon the emissions intensity approach with intensity targets that are ambitious enough to lead to absolute reductions in emissions and thus support the establishment of a fixed cap on emissions during this period. [Well, at least they're ambitious intensity-targets!]

Long-term (2050) [And we're doing what from 2026-2049?]

* For air pollutants: the Government will continue to employ a fixed cap approach to target-setting.
* For GHGs: the Government is committed to achieving an absolute reduction in GHG emissions between 45 and 65% from 2003 levels by 2050, and will ask the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy for advice on the specific target to be selected and scenarios for how the target could be achieved. [Why are they waffling here? The NRTEE has already stated that a 60% reduction by 2050 is achievable!]

The targets and timelines for each sector will be the subject of ongoing analytical work and consultations. [Of course!]

The only items that are being moved on immediately are the emissions from On-Road and Off-Road Vehicles and Engines, and from some commercial and consumer products. It's great to address these problems, but this is very far from what we need to do. We need mandatory GHG emission caps - and the sooner the better!

The introduction to this document makes it clear that the Tories still have not much interest in the problem of climate change - the "Rationale for action" section has a heavy emphasis on air pollution, with only a passing mention of the climate change issue.

Unfortunately, it seems that the only Tory who does understand the serious doo-doo we'll find ourselves in if we don't act urgently has been kicked out of caucus. Not that this will help the Harper government. I'm sure Mr. Turner will continue to have lots to say.

For more commentary on the Tory 'plan', see:

The NDP news release:
"The Conservatives' made-in-Washington green plan means it will be years before any action will be taken to reduce pollution and halt climate change."

They're not kidding about the 'made-in-Washington' bit - the Notice of Regulatory Intent (where they describe their targets and timelines) is full of references to aligning our standards to US standards. If it were truly a made-in-Canada plan, we'd be setting our own targets and standard based on world-wide best practices!

The David Suzuki Foundation news release:

The federal governmentĂ‚’s new Clean Air Act will actually lead to increased pollution

From the Sierra Club news release:

“No targets means no accountability,” said John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor - Energy “This announcement is nothing more than a recipe for delay. Adopting the Bush Administrations standards will not lower emissions from vehicles.”

Liberal Environment critic John Godfrey said:
“Will the Environment Minister Rona Abrose admit that her real intention is to delay action on climate change for years when she already has the tools she needs to act today?”

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