Government of Canada’s Latest Climate Policy Stance: Racism

Yesterday Environment Minister Peter Kent said that developing nations need to stop ‘wielding the historical guilty card,’ claiming they have no responsibility for emissions reductions just because they haven’t been emitting GHGs as long as Canada has, and that Canada isn’t going to do anything until some of the poorest countries in the world with some of the lowest per capita carbon emissions make some serious changes to their climate change strategy.

CYCC director Cameron Fenton gave a brilliantly simple analogy for this illogical stance on climate action: If your grass is too long you can’t yell at your neighbor to mow his lawn. Particularly if your grass is 10 times longer than your neighbours, you’ve been growing it for 100 years longer, and you have more than enough money in your bank account to buy a couple riding mowers to clean up your lawn and lend one to your neighbour as well.

One of the many things that disturbed me about this statement was the blatant environmental racism that it purports. Kent is suggesting that Canada should stand aside from climate action, continue to contribute massively to the problem, and watch as climate change disproportionately ravages developing nations. Canada’s complacency for allowing the (largely non-white) populations of these countries to suffer the terrible fate of climate chaos is a deplorable stance for a so-called ‘friendly’ nation to take.

I’m deeply disgusted that Canada’s official stance coming into COP17 is one of such blatant disregard for human rights, logic, and reason, although I can’t say that I’m all that surprised. Canada’s position in international climate negotiations over the past 5 years has been deteriorating steadily. It seems at this point where Kent has denounced the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, is about to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, and has the ego to promote unbelievable, racist policies. The only way things could get worse is if the Canadian Government denied the existence of climate change.

To be part of the movement trying to turn around Canada’s miserable climate policy, check out Buy Back Our Future, the next step in the CYD’s Operation: Oil Change campaign to re-frame the climate discourse and get polluters out of our government’s negotiating policies.

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