Thursday, July 02, 2009

Are we feeling proud yet?

Canada is back!
Canada and Japan were blocking a possible deal on climate change at the Copenhagen summit, Sir David King, the former Chief Scientific Adviser, warned yesterday.

Speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists, Sir David said that the two countries had stepped into the breach left by the Bush Administration, which had strongly resisted cutting CO2 emissions.

“Copenhagen is faltering at the moment,” said Sir David. “The Americans are now fully engaged. But several countries are blocking the process.”

Governments previously were able to hide behind the US’s intransigence on climate change, he said, but the pro-climate policies being launched by the Obama administration means this is no longer possible....

Canada’s position is widely believed to be driven by its powerful industry lobby, which is keen to exploit oil reserves in the country’s tar sands. “These people are very outspoken, aggressive lobbyists,” said Dr Robert Falkner, a specialist in international relations at the London School of Economics. “They are gung-ho about rising oil prices and want to exploit that.”
But we can expect the Liberal Party to stand up to the Mass Death lobby, right? Wrong:
In part, he said, the Liberals have tried to win votes in Toronto by blowing off Alberta and bashing the oil sands. Mr. Ignatieff believes that strategy is insane for a number of reasons.

“I think sometimes we tried to establish our environmental bona fides by running against the oil sands,” he said. “And I just think: This is a national industry. It's pumping something like $8-billion into the federal treasury. So it's slightly bad faith to beat the goose that lays the golden egg over the head with a stick. The goose is a little messy. The goose needs to be cleaned up. The goose needs to make better use of the yard, but let's make this a sustainable industry that all Canadians can be proud of.”
First off, I would hope that a politician with any sense would avoid avian metaphors when talking about the tar sands. Secondly, the idea of making the tar sands "sustainable" is a fantasy, though it's clear that the influence of Marc Jaccard continues to be felt. It's fantastical because a) we still have no strong evidence that CCS is ever going to be a real technology, and b) even if we had working CCS today the oil lobby would never be willing to pay the price to clean up their own emissions. Inevitably, the Feds will end up subsidizing any CCS scheme, and that's assuming they can ever find a working model. And of course CO2 is only one of the many, many problems inherent to tar sands production -- water issues, settling ponds, and air pollution are all serious issues too, and are even more intractable than CO2 pollution.

I really want Liberals to be honest about what the choices are now between the Conservative Party and their own. We can choose between a party that has no serious commitment to cleaning up the country's worst environmental problem, led by a man who vocally supported the Iraq War -- or we can vote for the Conservatives. Blech.

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