The UN climate change summit in Mexico wraps up today. Although world leaders were far from reaching an ambitious, fair and binding deal, they did make some progress on issues like financing solutions from rich nations to those countries most at risk. Overcoming this barrier would move the world towards an effective response to climate change if world leaders are able to show resolve at next year's summit in South Africa.
But what was really troubling for our country was our federal government's behaviour at the negotiations. It is rare to see such a level of immaturity and, frankly, laziness from a developed country when it comes to being part of an international dialogue on solutions to the greatest threat facing our planet.
Our Environment Minister, John Baird, arrived at the UN climate change summit without a plan for Canada to play a constructive role by reducing global warming emissions.
He did, however, bring with him some fingers to point the blame. Not long after setting foot in Mexico, Minister Baird chastised China for not doing enough to counter global warming emissions. He retorted: "If it's two steps forward in Canada but eight steps back in China, that doesn't deliver the goods in the fight against climate change, that doesn't deliver the goods for the environment, it doesn't deliver the goods for the world."
Really? The Conservative government has promised three times in the past five years to put in place a plan to reduce Canada's global warming emissions, yet none of the proposed plans, even the proposal developed in 2007 by John Baird himself during his first tenure as Canada's Environment Minister, have ever seen the light of day.
Last year, China became the global leader in investment in clean energy solutions and allocated nearly 38 per cent of the country's budget to green infrastructure, including wind power and public transit. Canada allocated a mere eight per cent of its budget towards solutions.
Although Minister Baird is correct that China must do more, as must all countries, he failed to note that Canada emits six times more global warming pollution per person than China. To have any credibility or moral authority to point blame, it might have made sense for the minister to arrive in Mexico with at least a plan to reduce Canada's emissions.
The Canadian government claims it will follow the U.S.'s approach to climate change. But that really doesn't add up either, as the U.S. is on track to outspend Canada 18 times more per person on clean energy solutions.
Thankfully, state and provincial leaders are filling some of the void left by the federal governments. In California, citizens recently voted to keep their clean energy economy strong by squashing efforts by two oil companies to dismantle the state's Global Warming Solutions Act. Since 2005, green jobs in California have grown 10 times faster than the state average and now employ half a million people. Leaders in provinces like Ontario, B.C., Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba have also started to realize the opportunities of being part of the solution and investing in a clean, rather than dirty, energy future.
Canadians deserve more than empty rhetoric, broken promises and finger-pointing when it comes to our country's response to the serious threat of climate change.