By TOM HARRIS
OTTAWA, ON – At the yearly United Nations Climate Change Conference now underway in Qatar, there are two sessions; one is irrelevant to Canada while the other is setting a time bomb for us.
Since our government had the foresight to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol last year, Canadians can safely ignore the first session, the 8th Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol.
The second session is another matter. Because Canada is still an active participant in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that body’s 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) is something we must watch closely. At COP18, Canadian representatives will continue working with the UNFCCC to help create what is, in effect, another Kyoto Protocol.
That is not what the government is saying, however.
When announcing our withdrawal from the Protocol, Environment Minister Peter Kent said, “We want to avoid another Kyoto-like pact at all costs,”
“We support the establishment of a single, new international climate change agreement that includes greenhouse gas [GHG] reduction commitments from all major emitters,” the Minister has said repeatedly over the past year.
But Canada and other developed nations are being hoodwinked. Here’s how.
At last year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference, delegates endorsed the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. Under this agreement, the Canadian and other governments pledged to work with the U.N. to establish by 2015 a global apparatus to force countries to enable legally-binding GHG reduction plans starting in 2020.
The Durban plan advances – “in a balanced fashion,” the U.N. asserts – the implementation of the December 2010 Cancun Agreements.
But Cancun has an opt-out clause for developing countries that allows them to agree to legally-binding emission cuts yet never actually carry them out. Developed nations do not have this option. Cancun states it twice. Here is one instance:
“Reaffirming that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing country Parties, and that the share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs.”
Since actions to significantly reduce GHG emissions will usually interfere with development priorities, developing countries will soon realize that an agreement based on Cancun will not limit their emissions. Such a treaty would then work in the same asymmetric fashion as Kyoto.
The only solution that makes sense for Canada is to get out of the UNFCCC that spawned the Kyoto, Cancun, and Durban agreements in the first place. The UNFCCC text lays out simple steps for withdrawal, stipulating in Article 25:
“At any time after three years from the date on which the Convention has entered into force for a Party [March 1994], that Party may withdraw from the Convention by giving written notification . . .”
As June’s Angus Reid public opinion poll found, almost three in five Canadians believe that global warming “is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.” Conservative strategists have obviously concluded they must continue to play along with the climate scare until public opinion changes. Consequently, the Canadian government continues to support alarm, telling citizens that we are causing a climate crisis and that we must therefore reduce GHG emissions. That science does not support such a stance is immaterial. Government cannot lead public opinion, strategists assume.
But recent research shows this is not the case. A paper published in February in the journal Climatic Change showed that the stated positions of politicians and other “elites” in society is the major factor driving public opinion about climate change.
So, here’s what our leaders must do for Canada to avoid another Kyoto:
Purge climate alarmism from all government communications, especially those of Minister Kent. The public needs to hear a realistic perspective of climate change. Hosting a climate science conference with experts from both sides of the debate is also important. So is bringing up, in the House of Commons and interviews, the growing credibility of the worldwide skeptic movement.
The federal government needs to support adaptation to climate variability as the most cost-effective and humane approach to inevitable changes. Putting the vast majority of climate change funding into vainly trying to stop what might happen late in the century, as is happening around the world today, is irrational and immoral, Kent could say.
Canada needs serious leadership on this file. Simply waiting for public opinion to change while the government itself helps feed the fire that threatens to burn down our economy is obviously a serious mistake.