Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Canadian Sovereignty Must Be Maintained

There are a lot of Europeans and European sympathizers in a fuss about Canada's expected recalcitrance at the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change. While I am all in favour of taking steps to reduce Canada's carbon footprint, we should not be be bullied into doing things which would hurt the long term economic fortunes of this country. We are an oil producing developed country whose oil reserves are just starting to be exploited. Most of the rest of the developed world either has no oil (see most of the EU) or coping with depleting reserves (Norway and the United States spring to mind). That doesn't mean these countries don't need oil today or that they won't need oil in the future. Creative accounting (economic collapse can do wonders for your environmental figure) shields Russia from Euro-scorn and allows the Europeans to fuel their cars with Russian oil and heat their homes with Russian gas (assuming the pipeline is turned on) . The oil-rich Arab states face no consequences for their drilling under Kyoto and are unlikely to face much pressure going forward for reasons unknown. Canada stands alone. We face unique circumstances, we should not accept a generic deal. The truest test of sovereignty is being able to listen to your people and say no even when everyone else wants you to do something.


The Mound of Sound said...

Spoken like a rightwing Liberal. Who exactly is "listening to [our] people" Aaron? Steve Harper? Is that your idea of listening?

Curious that you blithely compare Canada's oil industry to countries like Norway. I wasn't aware Norway had Tar Sands. Enlighten me.

This isn't about sovereignty, Aaron, it's about decency in a genuinely threatened world.

Maybe if you got out of that eco-shit pit, Toronto, and came out to see how climate change is already impacting other parts of this country, you wouldn't be so blase and prattle on about sovereignty.

wilson said...

If the majority of Canadians believed that our economy should be devasted to slow down global warming by 6 hours one hundred years from now,
Dion would be Prime Minister.

Australia is just the start of other countries revolting against the Global Warming scheme.

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure I follow your argument.

What about the planet’s interest? You know, Earth? That green and blue satellite orbiting the sun. The planet we live on.

I admit it will be hard for us. The Tar Sands are very valuable.

But isn’t maintaining the Earth’s health in Canada’s interest?

Western governments including Canada have coerced Brazil over the years to stop cutting down its rain forest. We pressure Japan to stop killing whales.

All in the name of the environment.

Combating climate change requires long-term international cooperation.

If we want to guide what form that cooperation will take, we should be involved. Instead we’ve got our heads in the sand, muttering to ourselves about carbon sequestration and clean coal.

That is right. Canada’s plan to reduce our carbon footprint is based on technology which hasn’t been invented yet – or is unfeasible.

As for Russia. The Russian economy’s now decades-long contraction means they are burning less fuel. This means they require less energy. Which means they contribute less to global warming.

Here is how it works:

The more of certain types of energy you burn means the more carbon gets released into the atmosphere. You burn less, less carbon is released.

I don’t know how to explain the process in simpler terms.

The problem for Canada is the tar sands are uniquely energy intensive, especially compared to Middle Eastern oil.

Of course we should try to get the best deal possible for Canada.

We’re not starting from a position of strength. What is the Conservative government’s position -- beyond wishing for a magic carbon-eating unicorn to suddenly appear?

As far as I can tell Canada’s position is to obstruct a meaningful climate change regime being put in place.

We’re obstructionist. Full stop.

That is: Our government’s single-minded goal is to put off the day when we have to reckon for the pollution we are causing. Pollution which is killing the earth.


Christian Conservative said...

Don't know if you'll appreciate or be offended by the comment, but here it is anyway... it's nice to see a Liberal talking sense.

Well said, we ARE a unique case. We live in a VAST northern climate, and while I'm sure we could reduce our industry emissions to some degree, I don't agree that we should do so at the risk of scuttling our own economy.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be the one to remind people but Canada had an economy before the tar sands.

When there is pain involved, what economy doesn't deserve an expection?

What a bunch of self-serving twattle you people are spewing.


The Mound of Sound said...

Gee that sounds awfully Christian of you. I'm sure your Lord and Saviour will be impressed to learn that you're "unique" and that it's best to err on the side of defending your economy against inflated risks than worry too much about your less advantaged fellow man.

Straight to Hell, brother.

Aaron Ginsberg said...

Mound, this isn't a question of whether or not we should try to stop global warming for me. That's a debate for ten years ago in my mind. The question is how. The current plan seems to be 'screw Canada' and I'm not in for that. I'm all in favour of building more nuclear power plants to get places like Alberta off coal. I'm all in favour of investing in public transportation and advocating urban density to get cars off the road. I don't want Harper to do nothing domestically, I just don't want Canada bullied internationally.

wsam, my point on Russia is that 1990 artificially deflates their impact on the environment. If the start date for Kyoto had been the date of the Kyoto conference, their numbers would be terrible. Including Soviet-era data throws a massive spanner into the legitimacy works as it does for most of Eastern Europe (including Germany).

As I argued in my previous post it is not Canada's fault that we have oil, or that we have dirty oil. As long as there is external demand for that oil, it is going to get extracted. Canada's domestic consumption of oil is fairly flat since 1990. It's all in exports. Extraction of natural resources has been the bedrock of the Canadian economy for 100 years. Whether that's nickel in Sudbury, asbestos in Quebec, potash in Saskatchewan or lumber in BC. I'm not willing to give up on that legacy

The Mound of Sound said...

Aaron, you're dead wrong. This isn't about "screw Canada" as you suggest. That's a wilful distortion to reach a self-serving conclusion.

Earlier today I wrote this in a post:

"...It's a global problem and, with our massive carbon footprint, the Canadian people are 'fully instrumental' in the fate that's already befalling the poorest and most powerless who happen to live in regions most vulnerable to the effects of our collective carbon emissions. You and me and every other Canadian gets a full share of responsibility for the suffering, displacement and death that's happening and will continue to spread elsewhere on this planet (just not here so much quite yet).

Sure China and India are bigger emitters than Canada but their populations are vastly bigger than us and their per capita emissions are vastly smaller than ours."

Save the Children Canada released an interesting report Aaron about the several millions of children who will endure first suffering and then death due to AGW. And Aaron, you and me and all Canadians will be fully instrumental in each and every one of those lives and in all of that suffering. And you argue that your economy trumps those lives. You contend that we ought to continue to inflict this harm on the poorest, least powerful and most vulnerable because not doing that might, just might harm your economy. The maintenance of your economy depends on the continued infliction of that harm.

That's remarkable Aaron and more than a bit disappointing. To hear that come from a self-proclaimed Liberal is genuinely disheartening.

Aaron Ginsberg said...

Mound, I don't see it in the apocalyptic zero-sum terms that you do. Once again, we need to fight climate change, that's not up for discussion on my part. The question becomes whether the current way of accounting for CO2 reflects the intricacies of a globalized economy. I say no and because of that, Canada ends up with a raw deal. You say we're all child-murderers. Somehow, I think there may be a communication breakdown.

What we should have learned from Kyoto if nothing else, is that being unreasonably ambitious as Chretien and Clinton were does you no good. We need a target that Canada can meet, not a target so impossible that it becomes easy to dismiss.

I also understand that if this party that I belong to is going to get off life-support it needs to start talking in serious terms to Western Canadians, particularly those between the pockets of Liberal support in Winnipeg and Vancouver. Telling them to move to Ontario and get manufacturing jobs is not going to cut it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Let me take a somewhat different tack with you Aaron. Let's approach the subject of climate change from a military/global security perspective.

The Brits' Ministry of Defence has already done a relatively detailed assessment of the security threats posed to the UK from global warming. Unfortunately it's at least three years out of date and, as such, understates the problems.

The Pentagon, however, will be releasing its Quadrenniel Defense Review in the coming months and it will focus on global destabilization, particularly in south and east Asia from climate change. A number of the countries that will be hardest affected in that region are nuclear powers and not all of them are inherently stable either.

Gwynne Dyer is no screaming tree hugger and is known for understating issues but he became drawn to the global warming issue when he noticed so many top military minds were focusing on the problem. That led him to spend about two years interviewing the best and brightest scientific and military minds from which he wrote "Climate Wars."

As Dyer quite rightly points out, we in the West won't feel the devastation of global warming itself. Our introduction to the problem will come through war.

The point, Aaron, is that if you want to trash the economy a global climate war will do that in spades.

Just a little food for thought.

Anonymous said...


I was being sarcastic.

If the planet is heating up the planet is heating up.

The Conservatives are clearly on the wrong side of this issue. They have proven themselves again and again to be the party of denial and obstruction.

If the Liberals cannot use that to create some sort of political opening, what would? Especially since the US seems headed in the right direction and we have a US President right now who is hostile to the Conservatives (In so far as an American President can be said to care about Canadian political parties).

Is not slowing down global warming in the interests of Western Canadians?


You are internalizing Conservative talking points. Not only is this bad politics. It is bad for the planet.

Again. If the planet is truly being polluted. Is that not a problem for Western Canadians?


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