Harper must show need for new international climate agreement

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the council on Foreign Relations in New York City in May, “On the issue of climate change, our government’s position from the outset is that we need a mandatory, international protocol that includes all significant emitters…”
To sensibly support such a goal, Canadians need direct and honest answers from the Government to several key questions about climate change, issues they have carefully avoided to date. It is not enough to simply assume that the public agrees with, and are willing to pay for, costly carbon dioxide emission reductions. We must also know that it is worth doing in the first place.
Here are some of the questions the Government must answer before considering roping Canada into yet another international climate change protocol:
1. Before first forming the government in 2006, Harper often expressed doubts about the causes of climate change. Now he never does and instead supports the politically correct hypothesis that humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions are causing a climate crisis. What caused him to so markedly change his position on this issue?
2. Does the Prime Minster really believe that we can limit ‘world temperature’ rise to two degrees Celsius by restricting our emissions of the trace gas, carbon dioxide? If so, then why does he think it has not warmed in 17 years and, according to the U.K. Met Office, expected to not start warming again before 2018?
This directly contradicts the computerized climate models that predict that warming should occur during a period of continued carbon dioxide rise, as has occurred in recent years.
3 . Why does the Prime Minister resist calls for open hearings into the causes of climate change, inviting testimony from experts from both sides of the debate? Many of Canada’s leading climate scientists no longer support the theory that a climate crisis is being caused by humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions. Why does the Harper government pay no attention to these experts?
4 . Why does Canada promote the establishment of a United Nations greenhouse gas reduction treaty based on the Cancun Agreements in which there is an “opt-out clause” for developing countries? This will almost certainly make the treaty into another Kyoto Protocol. Why not have the same rules for everyone?
5 . Why is a northern nation like Canada concerned about, and only planning for, global warming when cooling is far more dangerous and, according to an increasing number of climate experts, more probable?
If it warms, Canada can simply adopt farming practices used to the south of us, such as in Arkansas. But if it cools, there is no one farming north of us and a temperature drop of only two degrees will ruin the wheat crop on the Canadian prairies, a major source of food for the world.
6 . The Canadian government has now banned the construction of coal-fired electricity generation stations that do not include carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS). Since CCS on such a scale will not be possible for at least 10 years, this means coal station construction is indefinitely banned in Canada, already resulting in much higher electricity prices. Yet the Canadian government is doing everything in its power to facilitate expansion of the oil sands, also a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.
Why are carbon dioxide emissions from coal considered such a problem that the industry must be gradually killed while the carbon dioxide emissions from the oil sands are merely to be controlled through future regulations?
Unless Canadians get proper answers to questions like these, one can only conclude that pure politics, not science or our country’s national interest, continues to shape Canada’s climate and energy plans.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition. Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.

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