Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Common Fossil

A remarkable book was published in 1987: Our Common Future. The authors, led by the former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Brundtland, pursuasively argued the need for sustainable development -- development that does not compromise the opportunities available to future generations. I was reminded of the importance of this book on Saturday when Gro Brundtland made a compelling speech at Foresty Day in Copenhagen. Twenty-two years later, its too bad that so few Canadians have heeded the key message of that book.

At the climate change meetings in Copenhagen, I was reminded of the failure of Canada to do its part to ensure Our Common Future, the world's global common future. This was pretty hard to escape in Copenhagen. The Canadian flag is pasted all over the prominent Fossil of the Day wall of shame. Climate Action Network confers its Fossil Awards to countries that do the least to address climate change. In other words, winning Fossil Awards means that a country is doing the least to advance Our Common Future. See

Sadly, Canada deserves every one its many Fossil Awards. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, ratified it in 2002, and has done virtually nothing to limit its emissions of greenhouse gases. Much of Canada's economic growth has come at the expense of the global environment. Canadians are enjoying larger homes, more SUVs, more kilometers per car, more coal, more oil sands and more beef, all at the expense of the environment. Under the current federal government, Canada's climate education, policies and actions have been virtually non-existent.

Indeed, the current government seems perfectly happy to win ever more Fossil Awards and obstruct international action to prevent catastrophic climate change. There is plenty of blame to go around. Stephane Dione's political fortunes sunk when he called for a carbon tax -- the policy solution that has been shown to produce the most effective and efficient climate solutions. Relatively few Canadians have joined climate protests. Climate change skeptics are still popular radio talk-show hosts. John Prentice is often named in the Fossil Award ceremonies, but his government has a solid base of support.

Sadly, Canada's climate inaction is Our Common Fossil.

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