There is no doubt that international policy and local governmental policies regarding energy production has played an important role in the way that people understand climate change and its effect on our planet. In September 2013,The United Nations announced to the press that they “formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases for the first time” . This announcement comes in a time in which Canada is undergoing an internal and international battle to distribute and increase its national production of oil, gas and, consequently, energy. This increase in energy production will certainly be another challenge for those who truly believe that climate change is an immediate effect of human activity and, as consequence of energy production, putting even more pressure on the climate change debate. The same UN report also agreed on the main accelerators of climate change arguing that “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” . Ironically, the UN is also agreeing with the source of the problem, namely “human activity,” yet endorsing to increase the limits on greenhouse gases. Understanding the political and policy aspect of the issue can be complicated, especially in the context of governmental policies, such as the willingness of a nation to adopt policies that will mitigate climate change. It is important to understand that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and international organizations such as the UN that were implemented as regulators and global advocators, are not really playing the game in favor of our planet. On one hand, these actors embrace the increment of greenhouse gases that are known to induce climate change. On the other hand, they agree on the damage that this may cause to our planet.
The Canadian Role
The scientific community has been studying climate change for many years and it is not a secret that in the past few decades it is getting worse. Even the United States of America President Obama’s science advisor, John P. Holdren, mentioned that “the kinds of harm already experienced from climate change will continue to worsen unless and until comprehensive and vigorous action to reduce emissions is undertaken worldwide” . However, Canadian authorities are more eager to continue with their development of energy projects, counter arguing that is economically beneficial for the entire country.
So, what is exactly the Canadian role in worsening climate change? It is simple. Looking at the Canadian role and commitments along with other industrialized nations, we can notice our government’s unwillingness to comply and minimize the country’s impact on climate change. Specifically, the Canadian government does not comply with the agreements resulting from the 2009 Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, in which Canada agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17% bellow the 2005 levels by the year 2020. According to an analysis from DeepClimate.org, the Canadian government is simply not willing to meet its targets in reducing GHG by 2020. The analysis alleged that “Canada is “mocking” the 2020 target agreed to only two years ago; the promised 17% reduction in annual GHG emissions (relative to 2005) is already out of reach” .
The Canadian government’s unwillingness to meet its target agreement stems from its energy production. Canada hold the third biggest reserve of oil in the world which makes it very tempting for the Canadian government to exploit and generate economical gain from the extraction of energy, making the issue wider and more political. It is important to note that the issue of energy production goes well beyond climate change and economic growth; the social aspect is crucial. The Canadian government argues that oil production is beneficial for all Canadian citizens and the international community. According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), “Canada is the only country with growing oil production, which means more jobs and investment” . This is not only profitable for Canada but also beneficial for our America neighbours. In his article entitled Canada’s Climate Change: How getting to 2020 will be Tough, Very Tough, , David McLaughlin argued that “ this makes climate change a political economy story” . Clearly climate change in Canada is an issue that comes and goes in the political arena. However, due to the vast oil reserves that this country holds, climate change policies are going to be relegated to a secondary, less important, role.
Thus, we can say that the Canadian government is playing a protagonist role when it comes to the issue of climate change. The collective emissions of GHG from all energy producing provinces in Canada are very significant, and without a comprehensive environmental policy and the true commitment of the federal government our contribution to climate change it will just get worse. The increase in the limit on greenhouse gases by the United Nations will only benefit countries like Canada that are eager to exploit their natural resources without caring about the consequences to our planet’s climate.
1 – The New York Times Article. U.N Climate Panel Endorses Ceiling on Global Emissions
2 – Deep Climate. Exploring climate science disinformation in Canada and beyond.
Accessed on October 18
3 – McLaughlin, David “Canada’s Climate Change: How Getting to 2020 will be Tough, Very Tough” in policy: Canadian Politics and Public Policy (available at: policymagazine.ca), pp. 43-46. 2013 LPAC Ltd.
4 – The Word Need Energy
Accessed on October 18
5 – The Energy Innovation Imperative
Accessed on October 17