NDP MP calls on Canada to be a climate leader

It’s time for Canada to take a leadership role in climate change concerns, not walk away from the table.

It’s time for Canada to take a leadership role in climate change concerns, not walk away from the table.

Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder said the federal government’s refusal to make a new commitment to the Kyoto Accord during a climate conference in Durban, South Africa, gives the entire country a black eye.

The Kyoto protocol, adopted in 1997 and implemented in 2005, set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to an average of five per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

“The Conservative government has had five years to come up with solutions. They are not going to be able to keep blaming the Liberals for our emission problems,” said Crowder. “Pulling out is not the answer. It’s time to be a leader.”

Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP James Lunney said Kyoto was little more than a comforting illusion.

“It was flawed from the beginning. It didn’t include the biggest emitters,” he said. “We are such a small part of the overall problem that crippling our economy to satisfy someone else’s illusion doesn’t make sense.”

Crowder said with China now at the table and willing to accept commitments, it will be difficult for Canada to close the door.

“You can bring other countries along when leading by example. Commit to a meaningful target and put an action plan in place,” she said. “We have to invest in renewable energy programs and the economy that goes along with that.”

Ian Gartshore, president of Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island, said the Conservative stance is bad news for the country, but good news for the oil and gas industry.

“[Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has made it clear the economy is more important than the environment,” he said.

“When they first came to power, they pointed fingers at the Liberals who allowed emissions to increase. Since that time, they have been supportive of the oil sands and accelerated the very thing they blamed the Liberals for.”

Gartshore said the government needs to work on slowing down sources of pollution.

“If they’re going to spend billions on research, spend it on discovering how to counteract the results of putting so much carbon in the air,” he said “They should be spending billions of dollars on forests. That would guarantee sequestering carbon from the air.

Lunney said the government is committed to a plan that would require all countries to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are pushing a plan to include all major emitters,” he said. “In the meantime, we have reduced our own emission by 17 per cent from 2005 levels and we are making progress.”

– With files from the PQ News