Sunday, May 27, 2007

John Baird: Canada As "Bridge"

Finally, some indication of Canada's position, heading into the G8 climate change talks. On the one hand the Europeans, on the other the Americans, Canada in between:
Environment Minister John Baird was asked about the controversy Sunday, but did not specifically comment on the U.S. position. He said he saw Canada acting as a “bridge” between the divergent opinions.

“We need a genuine effort to get the United States, China, India to join with Canada and other European countries on worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions,” Baird said in Toronto.

“But we’ve got to take action at home. Talk is cheap. Canadians have seen too much talk and not enough action, and we’re committed to the action side.”

Baird also said Canada supports the European-backed idea of a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, although he uses a much different base year for the reduction: 2006 versus 1990.

What does "bridge" mean?:
Louise Comeau of the Sage Centre’s climate project interpreted Baird’s remarks about Canada acting as a bridge as meaning the Conservative government will inevitably help water down G8 declaration by insisting Washington’s views be included.

“There’s nothing unreasonable in the German proposals and Canada should be supporting them,” said Comeau. “If that means Canada isolating the U.S. this time around, then that’s what we have to do.”

I take the above as an accurate interpretation, Canada as intermediary, helping to massage language to get the Americans to agree. Hard to follow Baird's logic, today he also praised the Americans for doing more on climate change than Canada, even though the Bush administration has been an objective environmental nightmare. It would appear that Baird will try to paint Canada as consensus builder, which will conveniently allow Canada to sign on to something less than required.

Again, if Canada is leading the world as Baird suggests, then we should have no trouble siding with the Europeans, which effectively puts more pressure on Washington, through isolation. Instead, Canada is prepared to help the Americans find a way out to save credibility, which speaks VOLUMES about our true intentions. Baird also mentions China, which is adopting its own regime, as though Canada can have influence, despite the fact the Harper government has badly damaged relations with China, through its diplomatically challenged, bumbling approach. I'm sure the Chinese are all ears. John Baird, leading the world, while simultaneously working behind the scenes to appease the biggest polluter. The sense of pride we should all feel.


knb said...

Sigh. I go back to my comment that Baird is going to spin out of control.

You're right of course, if we were truly leading, we'd fall in step with Europe. We're not though are we, so what to do?

Tell the world that we are, put on the pretense of playing mediator, with "big" players of course, giving us a way to actually support our weak position. If Canada can say, "if all nations would water down their wine enough, to bring the US and China and India into the mix, we will have a far more comprehensive global plan". Of course, Baird could paint Canada as the hero, while giving himself cover for his plan.

What a pile of $#!^!

If there is one thing I'll give this government, it's the fact that they excel at plotting and spinning. It's stunning.

Here's the thing though, I cannot believe for a moment that Europe is going to buy a word of it. Baird and Bush for that matter, depend on their audiences not being able to read through the spin. It's put out there in such a way, that by the time you cut through it, he's already established his talking points.

If and when Europe call's him on it, he'll put up his hands and say Canada tried, but other nations are too stubborn to see what damage they are doing.

The acting role of his lifetime, carefully crafted/directed with help from the US no doubt. People with sense in this country don't buy it, I can't imagine the experts outside it's borders will.

If they do...we are in trouble.

knb said...

btw Steve, I raised this at Jeff's blog: May had a very succint comment that knocked back the claim that U.S. has done better than us. Does anyone have that? It pointed out how the claim was not valid and compared apples and oranges basically.

I'm not conversant enough on the subject to remember what she said exactly. It may have had to do with what was measured and it's relationship to per capita comparison.

Are you familiar with what I'm referring to?

Steve V said...

Knb, I can't remember that specifically. This is relevant:

"The slow growth in emissions from 2004 to 2005 can be attributed mainly to higher energy prices that suppressed demand, low or negative growth in several energy-intensive industries, and weather-related disruptions,” the Energy Department said in a separate report on greenhouse gas emissions."

That isn't a environmentalists conclusions, but the government itself.

"What a pile of $#!^!"

It really is amazing to watch, this dishonest dance we do- with a straight face!

knb said...

Indeed it is Steve. I can't lie, in real life or anywhere else. Never have been able to, never will, so I never try. (Frankly I never saw the point). That said, when you say with a straight face!...yes my mind boggles.

The interview with May was on camera. I checked you- tube and cannot find it.

It was true and clever at the same time. I'm not sure why others aren't citing it.

Tomm said...

KNB & Steve,

We are kindred spirits, but we seem on separate mountain tops. Why is that?

I'm going to take a stab at answering. I think my answer may illuminate my views on the "bridge" post.

Kyoto is a line in the sand. It is meaningless. It is sand. But it exists. You, and many others are surprisingly pretending that the line is meaningful. Is it because a bunch of countries signed on? What was their motiviation?

Because I think that motivation is key. The Kyoto line is without environmental meaning, any line is a place to meet.

China, India, Indonesia, Australia, US did not agree to the Kyoto line. What's to be done??

Perhaps we need to re-draw this line so that something approaching a majority of GHG emissions actually are spoken to.


Steve V said...


What we are talking about now is post-Kyoto. Canada has every right to offer proposals with a yet to be determined framework. Whether or not countries participated in the past, doesn't preclude them from joining a new initiative, nor does it give Canada a pass. It really is a sad argument to mention China or other countries, because it has nothing to do with our approach. If you want to lead, then show the way, don't rhyme off other delinquents and concede.

BTW, Baird is already on record, agreeing with the 2050 emissions proposal of the Europeans, which again begs the question, why the hesitation? Who cares about post-Kyoto this, or international trading that, if Canada really has the "made in Canada" plan it expouses, then how it reaches the targets are largely irrelevant, right?

knb said...

Tomm, you can draw your line in the sand close to the tide or metres away, there is a difference.

Steve's point is valid, but I will say this, you and Olaf seem to be the only one's able to discuss, this subject.

It came up on another blog and I mentioned Olaf, because he has a blog. You too Tomm take the time to discuss.

I wish there were more like you two.

Tomm said...

Steve and KNB,

I think we are saying the same things.

Steve, I totally agree that we have not talking about 2008-2012. We haven't been seriously addressing this, well, ever.

Environment Canada was going to roll out lots of legislation on the rules for large final emitters.

I would say (not fact, just my opinion) that thankfully Harper got elected, so the manuals of guidelines never saw the light of day.

Have you seen any of the Best Practice Guidance materials from the UNFCC or Kyoto?

It is indeed frightening. Another full building in Ottawa/Hull would need to be populated just to figure out which beans to count, count them, and audit the count.

Getting back on point, Baird has agreed that Canada's signature remains meaningful, although he hasn't quite explained how.

He has talked repeatedly about 2013+. I think this is very productive. Even the first C-30 was a longterm look, which is consistent with what the Europeans are talking about.


Tomm said...


I need to amend my last comment.

Baird needs to explain clearly what Canada thinks its signature on the Kyoto Protocol means relative to 2008-2012 commitments. I did not mean to indicate that I approved of his lack of clarity, I don't.


Anonymous said...

Baird's bridge to nowhere. We now know that the CPC only use so-called experts that agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Baird serious about climate action? When we know that they only allow conservative friendly experts, witnesses and those sympathetic for the conservative cause (more oil money).

Nothing that comes out of any CPCer can be taken seriously ever again(like it could be before) now that it is fact that they grind their own committees to a halt to prevent action or debate. They are undemocratic and act like they have a majority when they obviously were not given the mandate.

If you want any real action on anything other than putting more guns into hands of criminals, reducing clean air, or making Canada much unfairer then kick these asses to the curb and elect a progressive party.

Anonymous said...

Why has no one mentioned the fact that they tougher clean air act from Baird which is being disseminated today to all the environment ministers which is supposed to be better than the liberals has the oil sands already two years ahead on this plan?

Seems to me the tar sands are meeting the targets Liberals imposed in the past and the new CPC plan is not requiring any more action on their part. So much for better than the liberals made in canada plan.