Something Unexpected

The differences between the Canadian and American political systems amaze me.

Whenever anyone mentions greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the States, people argue, journalists rant about dire economic costs, and Senators stand up and say that cap-and-trade is completely unnecessary because CO2 is plant food.

But here in Canada, the government will be voting on greenhouse gas targets next Wednesday, and I didn’t know a thing about it until DeSmogBlog mentioned it. None of the mainstream media outlets or other Canadian climate blogs I follow said a word about it. Maybe they didn’t know either.

Which is really quite strange, seeing as the federal government likes to call a 3% reduction from 1990 levels “aggressive action” and make a whole website about it, featuring a picture of Stephen Harper planting a tree. You’d imagine that, now that they’re considering a cut of 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% by 2050, they would make sure that every citizen in the country knew how responsible they were being.

The bill is known as C-311, or the Climate Change Accountability Act, and I encourage you to all read it here, it’s not very long. It’s been around for a few years, and even passed through the House once, but it had to restart several times due to various prorogations. Now it’s finally ready to be voted on by the House, and they’re doing that vote on Wednesday.

I’m not sure how much support this bill has from the MPs, but I sure hope it passes, because it would actually put us in line with the EU. Yes, no more number games of shifting around the baseline years – the proposed targets actually fall within the UN’s recommendations to avoid 2 C of warming.

Something even better about these targets, though, is this:

The Minister shall, within six months after this Act receives royal assent, prepare and lay before both Houses of Parliament an interim Canadian greenhouse gas emissions target plan for the years 2015, 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. The target plan shall

(a) establish a Canadian greenhouse gas emissions target for each of those years;

(b) specify the scientific, economic and technological evidence and analysis used to establish each target, including consideration of the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the most stringent greenhouse gas emissions targets adopted by other national governments; and

(c) show that each target is consistent with a responsible contribution by Canada to the UNFCCC’s ultimate objective of preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and with Parliament’s strong commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Bill C-311 isn’t just an empty promise. It makes the targets that we need attainable. If we could actually pass this, it would be the first time in my short life that I was impressed with the government and felt that politics was doing its job of protecting the interests of its citizens, rather than squabbling and trying to sabotage the other parties.

Update: It passed! Now on to the third reading. If it passes that, it moves to the Senate.


3 thoughts on “Something Unexpected

  1. Here’s why he isn’t trumpeting it: C-311 is an NDP bill, written by and campaigned upon by the NDP. Harper’s a Conservative of the Bush school in every sense of the term: There are no good ideas that come from anyone else in his mind, therefore it is seen on a purely partisan basis rather than on a national basis.

    [That is so sad. -Kate]

  2. If this passes, I can almost guarantee that it will be ignored, or at least the Cons will drag their feet so much that the result is the same as if it were ignored.

    Wish it weren’t the case

  3. Kudos for taking on the legal issues. I believe that Bill C-311 gets a third reading and vote before it can go to the Senate. If it does not pass, Canada will continue to have no federal climate change law. The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act was ignored by government and dismissed as unenforceable by the courts, while government has still not begun its own proposed GHG regulation scheme under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Whether Private Members’ Bill C-311 can pass and then be enforced against government is a matter of huge public interest and might indicate the general health of our democracy. Great blog.

    [So the vote was to move past the second reading, not to move it to the Senate? Thanks for correcting that. It’s a little difficult to get information when the news coverage of this bill is so sparse!

    Environmental law, very cool….do you work a lot with Linda Duncan? -Kate]

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