Tuesday, December 1, 2009
'The real villain is Canada'
Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling
The tar barons have held the nation to ransom. This thuggish petro-state is today the only obstacle to a deal in Copenhagen
George Monbiot, The Guardian: When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world's peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again...
Here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.
Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada... It is now clear that Canada will refuse to be sanctioned for abandoning its legal obligations... The Canadian government is testing the international process to destruction and finding that it breaks all too easily. By demonstrating that climate sanctions aren't worth the paper they're written on, it threatens to render any treaty struck at Copenhagen void.
After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007, it singlehandedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008 it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country that had done the most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world's 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th, Canada came 59th.
In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by this bullying... A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth...
The tar barons of Alberta have been able to hold the whole country to ransom. They have captured Canada's politics and are turning this lovely country into a cruel and thuggish place... Canada is a cultured, peaceful nation, which every so often allows a band of Neanderthals to trample over it... Get-rich schemes impoverished Canada and its reputation. But this is much worse, as it affects the whole world.
I will not pretend that this county is the only obstacle to an agreement at Copenhagen. But it is the major one. It feels odd to be writing this. The immediate threat to the global effort to sustain a peaceful and stable world comes not from Saudi Arabia or Iran or China. It comes from Canada. How could that be true?
Image; Syncrude oil sands, mine and refinery; source here.