Yesterday, Barack Obama announced that the United States is moving to restrict the emissions of its greatest polluter, the coal industry. The objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal by 30% in the next sixteen years. Stephen Harper responded by saying that Canada already restricts emissions from coal. What he neglected to say, of course, is that coal accounts for only 11% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The Canadian equivalent of coal is the tar sands.
Since he came to power, Mr. Harper has done everything he could to pave the way for bitumen -- and he has trashed those who advocated limiting tar sands emissions. Lawrence Martin writes:
Mr. Harper doesn’t seem to have changed his outlook much since 2008, when he responded to Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion’s plan for a “Green Shift” carbon tax. Mr. Harper called the plan a threat to national unity and said it would destroy everything his government had built. “It will actually screw everybody across the country,” he said.
When it comes to action on the environment, Canada stands alone:
On environment protection, Canada’s ranking is rock-bottom, according to Washington’s Center for Global Development – 27th out of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries.
Obama has been telling Harper for months that, if he wants to see the Keystone Pipeline cross American real estate, Canada will have to show a credible plan to protect the environment. Harper's response -- along with the other climate deniers in his party -- has been to do absolutely nothing.
Now the heat is on -- and Mr. Harper is beginning to feel the turn of the screw.