15 November 2011

APEC—Environment one, Keystone zero

Despite Stephen Harper's 25-minute walk in the garden with Barack Obama during the recent APEC forum, the president was not dissuaded from his decision to conduct a thorough review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. Apparently he is unconvinced by our prime minister's declaration that approval of the pipeline is a "no brainer." Perhaps the president, as Harper suggests, is just playing politics, or perhaps he recognizes that Keystone, which has been referred to as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet,” is about much more than a pipeline. That it is about the health of our planet and the future of global civilization.

Perhaps, during that stroll in the garden, the president got a little of this through to Mr. Harper. The prime minister joined with the other APEC leaders in signing off on the "Honolulu Declaration" which, among other things, commits the members to promoting environmentally friendly growth, including the need to "rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption."

According to President Obama, "We raised the bar on ourselves and will aim for even higher energy efficiencies.... This would be a huge step toward clean-energy economies and fighting climate change." Fine words, easily said, and perhaps I'm grasping at straws, but it does seem to indicate that the environment is on their minds, even Mr. Harper's, and that they recognize much more needs to be done. That, with the delay of Keystone, offers some small reason for optimism.

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