09 July 2008

Should Canada not be a leader on climate change?

The Harper government has decided to be a follower on global warming, specifically to follow the American tactic of refusing to get serious about the issue until China and India have committed to reduction targets. Our government has, in other words, committed us to following the follower.

Of course, China and India, with their massive economies must eventually agree to limits on greenhouse gas emissions, but why must we wait on them to do the right thing? Since when was what other people do the justification for moral behaviour?

We are one of the most technically advanced and prosperous nations on Earth. And, along with other industrialized nations, we have created most of the pollution and benefited the most from what caused it, so we ought to lead the way in cleaning it up. And there is no better way to lead than by example. As Anthony Cary, Britain's High Commissioner to Canada, has said, "The European Union, for its part, is clear that the best way of galvanizing the whole process is to act. Not only is that in our self-interest, but it is the path best calculated to bring in recalcitrant countries." Well said, High Commissioner.

It is embarrassing, pathetic even, to find Canada waiting upon developing countries to get on board before we take the action necessary to avert the greatest threat civilization has ever faced. We should set the targets scientists recommend and start meeting them. Now.

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