All talk, little action on climate change

By MPP Toby Barrett

This past month, instead of looking at ways we can kick-start the provincial economy we were forced to discuss McGuinty plans for sex-education, cuts to front line health care and pharmacies, and this government’s favourite headline diverter – climate change.

Specifically, we waded into debate when Liberal MPP Phil McNeely reintroduced his Private Members Bill titled, the Climate Change Awareness Act – even though we debated the same bill a few months earlier.

Despite Ontario’s lack of action on the carbon front, MPP McNeely made his second attempt to declare April 21st climate change awareness day with an eye to having school children work on climate change report cards. Keep in mind this would be yet another environmental day during a week already designated as earth week — the day before earth day, and two weeks after earth hour.

Quite simply, from where I sit, legislators spend too much time debating how many green days we can fit into a week and by the end of the week, nothing gets accomplished.

And while nothing has changed in the short months since this retreaded bill was first introduced, there has been a marked silence coming from government regarding climate change since the passage of its paper tiger cap and trade legislation.

In fact, when Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller – in what may be a career limiting move – pointed out that this province is nowhere near meeting its emission reduction targets, this province just shrugged. It begs the question why one would set those emission reduction targets in the first place if one was not prepared to meet them.

It’s not hard see why leaders here in Canada and abroad are reticent to slap what amounts to a price or tax on carbon to help meet targets. As Lorrie Goldstein notes in the Toronto Sun, “pricing carbon dioxide emissions, whether through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade market, means creating a new national sales tax.”

At Copenhagen the issue of climate change was front and centre on an international stage. Representatives from around the world came to properly address a global problem with global solutions. And yet, there was a complete failure at the Copenhagen conference to yield any meaningful accord – just a lot more talk. Negotiators failed to make any real movement toward emission reduction targets. The potential for these targets to disrupt the global economy means few are prepared to take action.

Scuttling matters even further were a slew of e-mails that uncovered numerous references to statistical tricks and data manipulation used by researchers to support the global warming theory.

As well a recent BBC report quotes research out of Western Washington University indicating a “cool” mode has, “replaced the warm mode in the pacific ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.” We’ll see.

With little in the way of answers or real government direction we’re left with awareness campaigns and more day designations, but little action where it would make the most impact.