About a year ago, the Canadian Conservative government announced that it had a plan to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions 20% from 2006 levels by 2020. The new regulations were scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2010. I was pretty happy – skeptical of Stephen Harper’s ability to carry this out, and wishing it was an even greater reduction – but still happy that progress was being made.
A few months ago, there was one article buried deep in my local newspaper that announced that the Harper government was giving up on this plan. They didn’t want to hurt the economy, or trade with the States, or something like that, so they were going to wait until the Waxman-Markey legislation was fully implemented. That meant they wouldn’t do anything on the issue until 2012, and even then it would take until 2016 for the laws they’d agreed on to come into force. I recall one interviewee in the newspaper saying that it was pretty ridiculous for a prime minister these days to expect to take no action on climate change for his first 6 years in office – and expect to get away with it.
These sort of political decisions usually make their way through the Globe and Mail, CBC, Rick Mercer, and Maclean’s pretty quickly. But this time, I only read the one, half-hidden article, and despite an extensive search, couldn’t find any other mention of it. I was amazed.
As I mention Canada’s (in)action on climate change in a (hopefully soon to come) video I’m working on, I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight. So I went through the Environment Canada website, which, believe me, is not an easy task. Every time I clicked on a link that said “action” or “Canada’s action plan” it lead me to a page that said “Copenhagen is coming!”
Eventually I found the page that described the 20% by 2020 plan – “Turning the Corner”. It hadn’t been updated in over a year – the last announcement was from August 9, 2008. There was no mention if the plan had been abandoned or postponed. And yet it still said,
“Proposed greenhouse gas regulations are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette later this year, and the regulations finalized in 2009 to come into force as planned on January 1, 2010.”
So they hadn’t done anything on this plan for a year, but were still claiming that it would come into force in four months, all the while making no admission of its abandonment and hoping nobody would notice.
I asked a coworker, who had been just as confused as I was. We called the help number at the bottom of the page, which, unfortunately, was the central information line for all of the Government of Canada. The employee who answered seemed to know even less than we did regarding Canada’s climate change plans.
“I can’t find anything,” he said. “What’s the name of the report?”
“Turning the Corner,” we replied.
“Okay. Just hang on while I type that into Google.”
Eventually we were sent to another federal website (which is so hidden that I can’t even find it again) which apparently dealt with greenhouse gases. It turns out that all they did was measure Canada’s emissions, and require any industrial plants that surpassed a certain amount to report this to the government – but not have to reduce them. Nowhere was there mention of Turning the Corner or any other kinds of regulations.
The environment section of Harper’s website was even worse. Words like “emissions intensity”, “clean air”, “home energy efficiency”, and “environmental leadership” were tossed around, assuming that nobody would read between the lines to discover how little Harper was actually doing about climate change.
The government employee on the line also gave us the number of the Environment Canada deparment. We called them and were given the number of the secretariat for greenhouse gas management. We called that number and got the answering machine. It was 2:00 PM on a Monday. We’ve never heard back.
Does anybody in Canada actually know what’s going on with climate change? Why isn’t anyone demanding answers? Is our country really so apathetic one way or the other?
At least in the States there’s a major opposition to cap-and-trade, so the government can’t pull the wool over your eyes too easily. At least it’s a controversy which is visible to the public