Saturday April 19, 2014

No reason for shame

If two environmental groups wanted to publicly shame Canada’s environmental record, they got their wish on Monday.

An annual report by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch accomplished its
desired effect. National and global news agencies ran stories showing Canada ranked 55th out of 58 countries in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

The only three countries Canada managed to edge out were Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi
Arabia. The results are similar to previous years — in 2010 Canada was fourth worst out of 57 countries and, in 2009, we were ranked 56th out of 57.

Not to be outdone, the Center for Global Development joined the pile-on and ranked Canada last out of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries when it comes to the environment.

The reports give the impression that Canada is doing something horribly wrong when it comes to the environment — we couldn’t even beat the U.S. (43), China (46) or Russia (56).

A closer look, however, reveals the absurdity of such rankings. When it comes to actual output of annual greenhouse gas emissions, Canada is far down the list with 344,000 tonnes — or 1.6 per cent of global emissions. Compare that to China, by far the world’s largest emitter with 23 per cent of global emissions — or 30 million tonnes.

In fact, Canada is also doing better than the U.S., EU, India, Russia, Japan and Germany when it comes to producing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

If you think the rankings are a joke, you’re right. The report places heavy emphasis on environmental policy direction, and not the actual emissions, when it comes to the ranking.

The report is fear-mongering and should be dismissed. Canada has repeatedly said that it favours establishing an environmental framework that is fair, effective and, most importantly, includes commitments from the world’s biggest emitters.

A resource-based economy such as Canada’s should not be expected to shoulder the brunt of environmental commitments when its production of greenhouse gas emissions is but a drop in the bucket. Until that message sinks in with environmental agencies, however, finger-wagging by self-righteous environmental groups will only continue.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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