Sunday, January 31, 2010

Harper at Davos on climate change (video)

Two videos from the week, the first is the overview report focussing on the panel session following Harper's Davos speech where the issue of climate change came up. Harper's position was not shared by the other leaders on the stage.

The second video is the full footage of Harper responding to those questions. The video then turns to Ignatieff's response.

And if you missed it yesterday, as well you might have, "[a]t a hastily called news conference in Calgary Saturday," Jim Prentice announced the Canadian GHG emissions targets under the Copenhagen agreement. Yes, on a Saturday afternoon, our Environment Minister casually announces a rather significant matter at a moment where it would attract very little attention and in an informal setting, at a "low-key news conference." They're nothing if not consistent in their contemptuous treatment of the public these days, doing their level best here to minimize attention on the announcement and keeping it far away from any sense of officialdom.

Why would they manage the announcement in this way? One big reason is that the announcement yesterday copied the U.S. filing made on Friday and that is a vulnerability for the Harper government. We like Obama but we want our environmental policy made in Canada. So the perception fostered is of a government without conviction. Its own policy can be dropped just like that:

Environment Minister Jim Prentice on Saturday said that by 2020 Canada would reduce emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, the same target the U.S. announced to the UN on Thursday.

The new targets represent a downward change from the previous Harper government position, 20 percent from 2006 levels by 2020. Here was Prentice earlier this year when it sure sounded like a firm promise and he even boasted that it was better than the U.S. target:
Now in that strategy we set a target to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in 2020 by 20 percent from a 2006 starting point, the so-called minus 20 by 2020 approach.

Now we see this, we have always seen this as an ambitious but also an achievable target, a promise really to the global community that we think Canada will be able to keep, a commitment that in fact requires of Canadians, requires of us as Canadians a greater effort going forward than the one that has been proposed by the so-called EU-27, more so than anything that has been proposed by anyone in the U.S. Senate and in fact a greater effort than has been proposed to this point by President-elect Obama himself.
So much for all that.

The significance of the change in baseline years is something to note, it's discussed here and it means that our target is now less progressive than the prior one.

That was the week in Harper government climate change file management, continuing difficulties on the international stage and a drive-by announcement of the nation's GHG emissions targets.