Archive for December, 2011
You may have read recently that Canada has officially pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. Although the move has long been expected, it still comes as a disappointment to many. This action, however, is not a protest on Canada’s part because it feels the accord isn’t working – it is working. Nor is it because Canada feels that the weak agreement just isn’t strong enough to really effect a positive change on the planet. Oh no, quite the opposite. It’s pulling out because it can and it will and nobody has the power to stop it, so there.
The Canadian government has stated that meeting its targets for reducing greenhouse gases is too expensive. Apparently, the country hadn’t realised that there would be some form of cost attached to saving the planet and everything on it.
What gets me about this whole fiasco is the way countries can convene at a summit like Kyoto, fail to agree on anything put forward, argue over the exact text in a document, insert a comma here, remove a legally binding cause there, while all the time watching these proceedings trudge on for days and days upsetting no end of politicians, diplomats and official representatives of various organisations. And all of this for what? So that we end up with an agreement where any country may pull out simply if it doesn’t work for them. Nobody said this was going to be cheap or easy, but I guess Canada didn’t notice that part of the final draft.
I remember when Canada used to the country everybody loved: America’s more intelligent, less offensive next-door neighbour. Home of the Mountie, maple syrup and Bryan Adams. Now it seems to be taking on a new persona; that of a corrupted, greedy, former environmental advocate.
We’ve always frowned at Canada’s financial and logistical assistance for those partaking in the Arctic seal hunt, and they’ve played no small part in the collapse of North Atlantic cod stocks. However, in more recent years Canada appears to be also cementing itself a new image as an American-idolising devotee to environmental destruction. With its push to extract oil from tar sands, a product often referred to as the world’s dirtiest oil, and now the shunning of Kyoto, it seems that this once highly-regarded country is turning its back on protecting the planet in order to turn a profit.
Withdrawing from Kyoto is effectively a message to the rest of the world that Canada doesn’t care about the future of this planet (as long as it will cost, that is). Naturally the politicians are saying that they will adhere to their own targets and lower carbon emissions their own way, but it’s perfectly clear to the rest of us that whatever measures are adopted won’t come close to the measly 6% cut in emissions they were committed to under Kyoto – in reality they have actually increased carbon emissions by about 16%.
Another aspect of Canada’s withdrawal is that they would face stiff penalties under the agreement for falling short of the agreed targets. I can’t belive that to get away from paying the penalties that they agreed to in 1997, a nation can simply just pull out. Surely that makes a complete mockery of the penalty system in the first place. I mean let’s imagine this: it’s the 2014 World Cup final: England are playing Spain and are winning 4-3. There are two minutes left to play. Wayne Rooney brings a Spanish player down in the penalty area as he’s about to score a goal. Consequently, the referee awards the Spanish player a penalty kick. Now, if this game were being played in ‘Canada’s world’ Wayne Rooney would just sulkily turn to the referee, tell him that a penalty kick is far too stiff a punishment for this offence, announce he’s not playing anymore, leave the field and thus the Spanish would no longer have their penalty kick. They loose, England win. It’s bizarre (although the addition of the ‘Canada Rule’ may add another dimension to football).
Let’s face it though; no one can really blame Canada for this. The true fault lies with the politicians who cannot look further than their own term of office or their own GDP. The original Kyoto Protocol was put through the grinder and watered down so many times that it became the wishy-washy, toothless, non-binding agreement that allows countries to do these type of things. Because countries (and their governments) are inherently selfish, we will never see a truly monumental climate agreement and countries like the US and China will be free to avoid any commitment while countries that do commit will also be free to… erm … uncommit.
What Canada has done just reinforces my view that politicians will only attempt to save humanity as long as it’s feasible for them to do so and if it will earn them either a few extra votes of a little cash on the side. Meanwhile, it makes a mockery of any future global agreements on pollution, climate change, deforestation, biodiversity, etc, etc…
The thing that worries me now is that any such accord in the future will be looked upon as just a piece of paper that you sign at the bottom, but don’t actually have to take action on if you don’t want to or you can’t afford it. It sets a really scary precedent for other nations to look to.
Anyway, to finish off, let’s move on to other un-related matters: Does anyone fancy defaulting on a trillion Euro debt? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, Greece; I’m looking at you…
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