Stéphane Dion: Stop talking about Kyoto

Canada’s opposition parties continue their posturing on the climate-change file, threatening to bring down the Conservative government unless it does the impossible:

StephaneDionsignsLiberal Leader Stephane Dion urged Harper to apply solutions endorsed by all three opposition parties and accept a consensus that was growing among environmentalists, economists and business executives that the minority government’s climate change plan is too weak to succeed.

“We believe that all political leaders have a moral obligation to do all that can be done on this critical challenge facing Canada and the world, and to put an end to the partisan politicking around this issue,” Dion wrote in a letter to Harper. “To date, your approach falls far short of the best that Canada can do. I urge you to put consensus ahead of confrontation. Every day counts in this battle and we must take real action now.”

The warning came two days after Environment Minister John Baird published a report that appears to ignore requirements of a new law, introduced and supported by the opposition parties, calling on the government to honour its international commitments under the Kyoto protocol on climate change by reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by an average of six per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Since we’ve done squat on the file in the decade since the Kyoto protocol was first agreed to, this would essentially mean cutting Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by one-third between now and the end of 2007.

Nobody could do this, not even Stéphane Dion, whom I quite like but in whom I’ve been disappointed as Liberal leader. By insisting this should by the government’s goal, he’s made the Tories look like the credible ones on the climate-change issue, which is a nearly impossible feat.

And if the opposition actually did bring down the minority government by defeating it in the House of Commons, there’d be an election, the Clean Air Act now winding its way through Parliament would die, the weak greenhouse-gas regulations proposed by Environment Minister John Baird would be scrapped, and the whole ridiculous dance would start all over. Presumably Dion’s strategy, were he to become prime minister, would be to say the Tories had left such a mess he couldn’t possibly fix it in time.

That’d be true, but it’s also exactly what the Tories have been saying about the government of which Dion was a part, and it’s also true when they say it.

Canada’s parties, particularly the ones that actually want to make a difference on climate change, ought to simply stop saying the word “Kyoto.” It’s dead in Canada, and until we can move on, we won’t be able to come up with anything better.

Photo credit: Flickr/ycanada_news

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