Activists Criticize Conservative Environment Efforts

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Written by May Warren

In the wake of the Paris International Panel on Climate Change, and polls showing that the environment is at the top of the public’s priorities the Federal Conservatives have takes several steps to rebrand themselves as a more environmentally friendly party. The replacement of environmental Minster Rona Ambrose with John Baird was a first step, and now Baird is talking tough on climate change.

"The time for talking about this and studying it in Canada is over. We have to get acting," Baird told CBC news after attending the climate change conference. Acknowledging that Canada, as a Northern Nation, would particularly suffer from any increase in global temperatures, Baird added that the seriousness of the situation requires moving away from voluntary agreements and towards strict limits on the carbon emissions that are causing climate change.

But Becky Wallace, CSA academic commissioner who led a protest against Baird when he spoke in Guelph two weeks ago, remains skeptical. “The conservatives are trying to appear more environmentally friendly but their record on this issue is absolutely abysmal,” she argues.

Adam Scott, a U of G student and member of GSEC, who attended the Nairobi Kenya conference on climate change as a youth delegate, says he too is wary of conservative promises. “Fundamentally, the political base of the Conservative Party is against taking drastic action to deal with the climate change issue.” He says adding, “I feel the party is currently ideologically incapable of making drastic improvements to environmental regulation in Canada.”

Scott argues that cabinet shuffles are merely a symbolic gesture and don’t go far towards getting to the root of the problem.“It is very important to understand that Minister Ambrose was merely a spokesperson for Harper and his team and all of her actions were directed from the Prime Ministers Office itself, John Baird does not represent an ideological shift, but rather a change in the messenger,” he explains.

Instead of allocating money without any real direction, Scott would like to see an interdisciplinary governmental approach, which would include redirecting subsidies towards green technology, strict regulations on carbon emissions and an increase Canadian presence in international climate change meetings.

“A meaningful commitment would entail the type of reaction a government would undertake in wartime. An acknowledgement that everyone must pull together to solve a common problem,” he reports.

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