Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's all so aspirational

The Harper government inspires us again! In fact, it's all just so very aspirational: "Canada says G8 climate target 'aspirational,' no need to change policy." So the big hoopla announced yesterday that the Harper gang had agreed to the 2 degree target pushed by Obama and agreed by Britain et al. was in fact an instance of their modus operandi on international environment issues: agree publicly, do otherwise privately. This move to immediately marginalize what they've supposedly publicly just agreed to is consistent for the Harper era (listen to Prentice here):
Less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised the G8 for its latest climate-change targets, his environment minister said those targets are "aspirational" and that Canada may not meet them.

Jim Prentice, in an interview with CBC from L'Aquila, Italy, said reducing emissions by 80 per cent by the year 2050 is an "aspirational goal."

The best-case scenario for the Harper government's climate-change program - which does not yet have enforceable regulations in place - is a reduction in Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions of up to 70 per cent by 2050.

Prentice said Canada does not need to change its policy.

"Well, this is an aspirational goal of developed countries collectively to try to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050," he told CBC NewsWorld in a telephone interview.

"But it is an aspirational goal and a collective goal. Really, when you're speaking of 2050, by that time some of the significant technological changes that are necessary will have been made."

Prentice's language stood in contrast to that of U.S. President Barack Obama, who said the G8 had reached "a historic consensus on concrete goals for reducing carbon emissions.

"We all agreed that, by 2050, developed nations will reduce their emissions by 80 per cent, and that we'll work with all nations to cut global emissions in half."
Thanks for coming, Canada! When we sign a contract, that's when our departure from it begins. Why act when you can put your faith in future technological advances to save the day? Prentice's emphasis in tone was clearly on the aspirational nature of the agreement, that Canada didn't need to do anything to change its policies and that technology may one day save our bacon.
Russia, like Canada described recently as one of the G8's "bad boys" on climate change by an environmental group, also said it wouldn't abide by the G8 pledge.
Perhaps sensing a backlash after he let the "aspirational" talking point out of the bag, Prentice tried to improve his media effort, as reported by the Star:
In contrast to Obama, Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice described the G8 targets in a CBC interview as "aspirational" but later said if the poor countries sign on, and everyone does their part, they could be "transformational."
The firmness of our government's commitment remains unclear, it seems to be improvised as they go.

By the way, Tony Clement, Minister of Tourism, is in Italy too, displaying insensitivity to the world (from the CP link):
Industry Minister Tony Clement, also in L'Aquila for the summit, said Canada is simply looking out for its economic interests.

"We want to do this, we want to do it right," Clement said of reducing emissions.

"We want to do it for our kids and our grandkids in Canada and around the world. But we have to do it in a way that ensures that we don't beggar ourselves."

That kind of talk does not find a receptive audience among developing nations, whose standard of living and quality of life remains many generations behind the Canadian standard. (emphasis added)
Making us proud at the G8, making us proud...

Update: The Harper government's seeming agreement to these public targets yet simultaneous reticence must be tying Canadian industry in knots, one would think. Where's the certainty?