The United States is preparing to reject new targets on climate change at a Group of Eight summit next month, dashing German and British hopes for a new global pact on carbon emissions, according to a document released by environmentalists.
Though Ms. Merkel and outgoing British leader Tony Blair — who made climate change a key priority for his final weeks in office — have pressed President George W. Bush to back a new agreement, the document claimed the White House is “fundamentally opposed” to many of the European objectives.
Every time I read one of these news items, I look for some reference to Canada, only to find nothing. Other countries are on record, yet Canada is consistently silent. Why?
Today, Stephane Dion asks the same question:
Canada must stand with the world's leading countries in the fight against climate change and object the U.S. government's efforts to thwart a global action plan on carbon emissions, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday.
“I am writing to urge you to recognize the moral imperative of urgent action, to seize the mantle of international leadership, and to speak out forcefully against the United States' efforts to dilute the global action plan,” said Mr. Dion.
“I am deeply troubled by Canada's silence in the face of reports that U.S. President George Bush is seeking to weaken the proposed G-8 Declaration on Climate Change and Energy Efficiency,” Mr. Dion wrote in the letter.
“Your government should not continue to approach this challenge as merely a domestic partisan political issue,” said Mr. Dion.
I find the silence particularly worrisome, because there seems to be a void between the rhetoric and reality. If you take John Baird at his word, the Canadian Green Plan is one of the most aggressive proposals on the world stage. People will remember Mr. Baird at the last G8 summit on climate change in March, taking the lead:
Environment Minister John Baird says he hopes Canada will help spearhead a number of environmental initiatives that go beyond the scope of the Kyoto Protocol
"We want to be part of, and provide leadership around the world for, negotiation of a new pact that will go farther than Kyoto in the years ahead."
We know that the Germans and British have "taken the lead", trying to exert pressure on the Americans. How do we reconcile Baird's bravado with the silence? If our plan is so ambitious, if we want "provide leadership", then surely we should seize on this opportunity. Baird has gone so far as to argue that Canada's plan goes well beyond what EU countries are proposing. A statement of truth translates into easy acceptance of the lesser targets proposed at the G8 summit. Canada should have no problem joining in on the chorus, further isolating the American position.
The silence begs a question. Is Canada sitting on the sidelines, allowing the Americans to take the heat, all the while quietly supporting their opposition? Sometimes you say more when you say nothing. We all know Baird has recently visited Washington to discuss the various issues, so you would have to conclude intimate knowledge of the American position. If we take this government at its word, if the plan is what they say it is, then there is no logical reason why Canada shouldn't be a the front of the line, demanding action. That we hear nothing, is telling.