Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly pointed to need for US action for Canada to take steps to address climate change. Now that US President Obama has announced major policy shift will Canada finally join in?
Ottawa (04 June 2014) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Obama administration's plan to cut greenhouse gases 30 per cent by the year 2030, compared to 2005 levels, in possibly the largest climate change initiative in U.S. history.
"The bottom line is we have never ... had to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment," EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a Washington news conference. "This is not just about disappearing polar bears and melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and it is about protecting our homes," she said. "It's about protecting local economies and it's about protecting jobs."
Canada needs to act
This comes as the United Nations climate change panel and climate scientists are warning that emissions are rising to dangerous levels. James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), hopes that Canada follows in the U.S. government's footsteps.
"The time for foot-dragging and finger pointing is over," said Clancy. "The Conservative government needs to act! For the sake of current and future generations."
Canada has always said it will act once the U.S. does — what now?
For the past couple of years the Conservative government has promised regulations for the oil and gas industry but has not acted. The Prime Minister has frequently said that regulations in the sector had to be "in concert" with Washington. The fear was that unilateral measures by Canada would harm Canadian energy producers who sell most of their oil and natural gas exports to the United States.
At a 2009 international conference in Copenhagen, Canada and the U.S. committed to reduce annual carbon emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. When both countries reported to a United Nations meeting this year, the U.S. declared proudly that "President Obama's climate action plan will keep the U.S. on target to reach our goal." Canada stated that meeting its commitment "could be challenging."
Unfortunately, Canada is falling short of its target. The national goal for emissions is 612 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere in the year 2020, but current policies will mean 734 million tonnes of carbon into the air that year.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE