Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Politics behind PM's sudden backing of 2-degree goal at G8 summit?

Speculation going into the G8 summit was that the Harper government would again be acting the laggard in the group on climate change issues. Indeed, on Monday in a pre-summit briefing, when pressed on whether Canada would support the "2 degree goal" that has become a new target, government officials were clueless, doing some kind of "who's on first" act:
Obama arrives in Italy with a new U.S. pledge to agree to a target of global temperatures increasing no more than 2 C, a goal the previous American administration strongly opposed.

But three senior Canadian officials, including Soudas, could not articulate a government position on the 2 C target at Monday's briefing: "We should wait and see how the discussion goes," said one official.(emphasis added)
Well wait and see no more! No G8 discussion even required. Suddenly, a Canadian position is borne: "PM to back 2-degree goal at G8 summit." Here's some of what Soudas is now saying:
Signalling a different approach to climate change, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested Canada will not oppose a declaration at the G8 summit that would limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.

It's a limit that the European Union and some developing countries have argued is critical to curbing widespread environmental damage.

"We're relatively open and supportive of that," said press secretary Dimitri Soudas, hours before landing in Rome.
Agreement on a limit to global temperature increases is believed to require tougher short- and mid-term actions by countries such as Canada to cut back on their greenhouse gases.

The Conservative government, though it endorses the fight against global warming, has postponed tough regulations on large industrial "greenhouse gas" emitters.

Soudas shrugged off questions about whether such a commitment would require even stricter industrial regulations: "We're for tougher regs; we think everyone should have tougher regs."
Of course you do! It only took what, 48 hours for the brand spanking new position to be formulated. Must have been some flight, working it all out on the back of the napkins and all. Flying by the seat of their pants takes on a whole new meaning. And it's what, only Canada's position on a serious issue that's suddenly sprung forth within that time frame.

Why the sudden commitment? Well, it's likely been given because the real climate change discussions don't happen until the Copenhagen conference in December of this year. Until that conference happens, why not put on a happy face and say, get some electoral brownie points in Canada? We very well could have an election between now and the Copenhagen conference. They probably view this as a bit of a freebie then, a no-brainer for election purposes.

Speaking of Copenhagen, have you looked at the front page of the Copenhagen web site lately? The Harper government's lagging is getting a good amount of attention. We lead the site with news of domestic opposition to the Harper government's recent pathetic environmental performance: "Political battle over Canadian climate." (They have flattering pictures of the PM over there at the Copenhagen site too...:)) Again, this is more motivation for the Harper crew to roll over at the G8.

Besides, we know what the Harper gang will likely be up to in the interim, don't we? The brown envelopes tell all: they agree publicly to something, yet attempt to undermine it privately.

Then again, maybe this is all perfectly legit...nah, sorry, don't believe a word of it. Their credibility deficit is just too deep for some of us, with good reason.