Friday, 4 December 2009

Canada doesn't deserve this criticism of its green record

We're committed to fighting climate change, and are responsibly managing our oil sands

Jim Prentice
The Guardian, Friday 4 December 2009
In response to George Monbiot's commentary, I would like to assure your readers that Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to fight climate change (Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling, 30 November). The government of Canada remains committed to achieving deep, economy-wide reductions in Canada's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. All sectors will contribute to emission reductions, including the oil sands, which today account for approximately 5% of Canada's GHG emissions. The Canadian government, along with provincial governments, and industry, is committed to managing this key strategic resource in an environmentally responsible way. This includes developing a progressive regulatory regime, investing in new environmental technologies (including $3.5bn for carbon capture and storage) and engaging our partners in the international community.
Canada's emission reduction targets are in line, and will remain aligned, with those recently proposed by the Obama administration. Canada is committed to a harmonised North American approach. This approach is being advanced in several areas, including: the Canada-US Clean Energy Dialogue; collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop a continental cap-and-trade system; and implementing a North American standard for GHG emissions and fuel economy from passenger vehicles.
I would also like to clarify the facts regarding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Bangkok. Monbiot claims that "almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking". At the talks in October, an informal discussion was convened among interested parties on the possible legal outcome of the negotiations. Since 2008 Canada has called for the outcome of the UN climate talks to be a single legal undertaking, building on the Kyoto protocol – with GHG commitments for all major emitters, including the US, China and India. Canada's position in this regard is widely shared by other developed countries, including the US, the EU, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
During that discussion, some developing country representatives indicated that they were not prepared to discuss this subject and chose to leave the meeting. Their decision was taken before Canada spoke. It is important to note that many African countries, South American countries and members of the Alliance of Small Island States did not leave the meeting. All parties returned to the negotiations the following day.
To say, as Mr Monbiot does, that Canada has launched "a campaign against multilateralism" is wrong and nothing less than scurrilous. Canada will continue to play an active and constructive role at Copenhagen with a view to achieving a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that balances environmental protection and economic prosperity, has a long-term focus, supports the development and deployment of clean technologies, supports constructive and ambitious global action, and includes commitments from all major economies.