Kyoto discord among greens Rating: NNNNN
Canada's long-awaited climate change plan was finally unveiled April 13, only to be met with a collective shrug.
Far from being a comprehensive, innovative guide to bringing Canada's economy into the 21st century, the plan largely lets the country's biggest polluters off the hook and lacks the detailed targets and timelines needed to accomplish our goals.
Our Kyoto plan needs a lot of work. The targets for some of Canada's biggest industries, for example, are outrageously low.
In fact, the way the plan is currently structured, these industries don't really have to do much of anything at all. This places the burden of reducing emissions overwhelmingly on individuals - through their actions and the use of their tax dollars - even though individual Canadians are responsible for only one-quarter of Canada's emissions.
The other key concern with the plan is its lack of credibility. It is short on detail, has few timelines for moving forward and has no accountability mechanisms other than an annual report that will not be published for three years.
What seemed to get lost in the announcement and subsequent discussion was the point of the whole exercise: to actually start reducing the emissions that are polluting our air and disrupting our climate. Our promises to start reducing emissions actually date back to 1992. We've already wasted far too much time delaying action. That needs to be the focus now.
Canada's Kyoto plan may be flawed and incomplete, but at least we now have a working document that we can build on as we go. Remember, Kyoto is not the end. It's just the start of a fundamental change in the way we produce and use energy.
Using energy more wisely will be very good for Canada's economy. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada is second only to Iceland in terms of being the planet's biggest energy waster. But Iceland can afford to waste energy - much of theirs is geo-thermal and non-polluting. In fact, Iceland wants to use that earth energy to make hydrogen and become the first hydrogen economy.
Meanwhile, Canada is still stumbling along, stuck in an inefficient 19th- and 20th-century industrial model. With oil prices going up and up, that hurts our economy.
Making the changes necessary to meet and exceed our Kyoto targets - that is, becoming more efficient, switching to cleaner energy sources and being more innovative - will be good for Canada even if they don't address the looming problem of climate change.
Previous energy revolutions all brought about profound improvements in human health and quality of life.
This one will be no different.