Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The long, drawn-out death of Kyoto, the one that's not Stephane's dog

So, speech from the Throne happened last night. As it happens almost every year. I kind of like to observe the pomp and circumstance; they remind me that there is such a thing as the Parliament and that there is the ship of the state, which (strangely enough) does need someone to steer it from time to time. We have not yet invented an autopilot for these occassions.

I - and this is almost difficult to admit as a former Liberal staffer and someone who's gotten his professional start as a pro-Kyoto activist in (ehm, ehm) Alberta - found nothing too controversial or extremely right-wing in the speech last night. It was strategically conceived to annoy and bait the opposition but the basic policy course seems to be the same old, same old Canadian middle of the road, 'all things to everyone' appeal. Why not? We are a complex, easily fractured federation and there will always be sectors and interest groups that any government has to cater to. There are noteworthy items and concessions in every single Speech from the Throne that deal a few more, albeit symbolic, cards to the province of Quebec, to Aboriginal people, to law and order enforcement (hey, no one is against having safer streets...), and, lately to environmentalists.

Having said the last word, yes, I am an environmentalist, at least deep on the inside, below the increasingly cynical outer layers. This stuff matters, in the long run. We do need to have cleaner Great Lakes, no lead in children's toys, and this climate change business is worrisome. If we can grow crops for food as well as for fuel, perhaps that's progress, too...

Which brings me to the K-word. Nothing against Stephane Dion's dog, but I have become absolutely sick of the constant appeals to 'save Kyoto'. Everyone who wants to cloak themselves in a progressive garb and drop fashionable references to Al Gore has been lining up to live up to this treaty - which few people really understand. It has become a pop culture reference, instead of a scientific point of reference. And, no secret, it has been one of the most mishandled, poorly managed public policy files in Ottawa...for years, almost a decade in fact.

When the first committment period of the Kyoto treaty is a mere three months away and Canada's GHG emissions remain - predictably - at 30% or more above our target, it is indeed time to throw in the towel. Not to throw in the towel on the actual long-term dynamic of trying to evolve our economy and adjust to climate change impacts...but to concede that, as far as the piece of paper is concerned, we are not going to make it.

The Liberals knew it, as early as 2002 and 2003. Dion must have known it when the Green Plan was overhauled. The Conservatives had known it all along - but they don't get 'wiseman points" for knowing something as obvious as that - nor do they qualify for 'sympathy points', seeing they would have preferred the entire issue just went away.

Yes, folks, last night was the much overdue public funeral of the idea that Canada could, would, was in position to, ever meet its self-imposed Kyoto commitments. Somehow, it doesn't feel like an end of an era, more like a beginning of another, less idealistic and less misguided era.

1 comment:

joncormier said...

Man I wish I could sign a lease the same way our government signs protocols, or pay my taxes the same way they cut greenhouse gases.

Yes I agree to pay them. Where are they? Oh, I'm not ready to pay them yet but I wholeheartedly agree that I SHOULD pay them, at some point, possibly in Russia or the Cayman Islands, and well I don't like these deadline things so I won't pay until they're removed and same with numbers. I don't like owing that much so unless all the numbers are removed from the forms I won't pay what I agreed to pay, etc etc etc.

I loved the brazen lying our governments portrayed when dealin with Kyoto. Now they'll have to focus more energy on eroding our privacy but with less GST! woo hoo!