G8 Summit Reflects Canada’s Climate Change Policies

G8 Summit
Obama, Medvedev & Harper (White House photo)

No one should be surprised that the G8 Summit in Toronto came and went with almost no mention of global warming. After all, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the rotating G8 President this year, and his government has been named the world’s Colossal Fossil at each of the last three climate summits. The message from G20 Summit on Sunday was no different.

Though the wording was slightly different, G8 leaders reiterated much the same goal as they did last year in Italy — that they share a desire to cut global CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050. Of course, the devil is in the details, and environmentalists are quite right to criticize their promises as weak and nebulous.

“Consistent with this ambitious long-term objective,” the G8 Communique ran, “we will undertake robust aggregate and individual mid-term reductions, taking into account that baselines may vary and that efforts need to be comparable.”

That and $2.50 will get you a cup of fair trade coffee.

“Reiterating last year’s commitment to keep global warming below two degrees is meaningless without action,” said Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Much greater reductions in global warming pollution are required from G8 countries. Otherwise, warming will be twice the dangerous threshold, which will be devastating for many of the world’s people and species.”

Truth to tell, it’s just the latest salvo in Harper’s overall strategy to lock North America into a fossil fuel economy. And that’s because his tentative hold on power in Canadian politics requires him to serve the needs of his home province of Alberta and its Tar Sands.

As politicians go, Harper — who doesn’t believe in the science of climate change — is crafty. He’s managing to delay and derail international climate change policy on a grand scale even as he convinces Canadians that our country remains environmentally progressive.


A recently leaked document from a source at Environment Canada (EC) shows that media stories on global warming are down by 80% in the Great White North since the Conservative government instituted rules in 2007 that curtail the ability of government scientists to speak with the reporters. The scientists must receive permission from government mandarins before giving interviews, and the approval process is often measured in days, if it comes at all. As a result, the country’s high-profile media, often facing quick deadlines, have stopped calling EC scientists.

Senior scientists in Canada are frustrated by the muzzles, and feel that Canadians are being kept in the dark about one of the most important issues facing the country. They have voiced their displeasure to the government communication officials, which appears to have resulted in an increasingly frosty relationship. As a result, four experts who were quoted in 99 major articles during a nine month period in in 2007 were only quoted in 12 articles during the same period in 2008.

“It’s definitely a scandal,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. He added that the government was “muzzling scientists; they’re putting climate deniers in key oversight positions over research, and they’re reducing funding in key areas […] It’s almost as though they’re making a conscious attempt to bury the truth.”

Businesses throughout the G8 should be miffed. Canada’s position and intransigence creates uncertainty, and makes it difficult to plan for the future. And that, as most Triple Pundit readers know, is a recipe for disaster.

Richard is a writer and editor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia who specializes in clean technology and climate change. He's the founder of One Blue Marble, a climate change activism blog and web site.

5 responses

  1. Climate Changers:

    In the end it WAS all just hyped up simple correlation anyways and since it's been 24 years with no climate crisis that is unique to the poor little 5 billion year old planet, its more than safe to say we can stop scaring our kids with this CO2 mistake. The Science Industry:, yet another new Catholic Church to scrutinize because Climate Change was their Iraq war and their abused Alter Boy that made us lose trust . They were not the saints as we thought. Learning curve?
    If you still think voters, who have the real consensus that counts will say yes to carbon taxes and lifestyle sacrifice, you are the new denier.

  2. Mememine69:

    You are entitled to an opinion, but not your own set of facts. So let me begin there by stating something boldly. Global warming is a scientific fact. It was a theory when it was first postulated in the 1830s, and early experiments on the subject were done in the 1890s. But the knowledge has been building in the scientific literature since that time and guess what happened in the 1980s… The global warming signature appeared. Scientists didn't know between the 1950s and the 1970s which would win… Would CO2 cause the planet to heat, or would pollution keep the temperature on an even keel. Greenhouse gases won the tug of war, and they're winning big. Climate change is actually barreling along.

    So climatologists know — they know — that temperatures are increasing and that GHG are the cause. In March, 1,400 papers were presented at a climate conference to advance the science since 2005… 1,400 papers all pointing to the same conclusion. Do you really think that they have NOT considered the geological record? Do you think they're all correlational studies. As someone who specializes in writing about climate change science, I can inform you that they are not.

    You are right to suggest that the Earth's temperature waxes and wanes according to known cycles. The major ones have the planet tipping on its axis… minor ones are things like solar minima. These are known quantities, and they have been accounted for. We're supposed to be cooling, truth be told, and yet the 2000s were the warmest decade in human history, and the 1990s the second warmest.

    Global warming is serious. Among the conclusions of those 1,400 studies I mentioned… We're looking at warming of 5-7°C if we don't cut emissions dramatically. And that will lead to: More than a 3 foot rise in sea level; continued melting of the himalayan glaciers (so that 1 billion people in Asia will be stressed by water shortages); up to 85% loss of the Amazon (not from deforestation, but extinction because plants can't adapt quickly); the end of farming in California; permanent dust bowl in the US southwest; most of central Africa will become a desert; and so on and so on. We can expect hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

    I can't say if these predictions are right. They are extrapolations based on the current rate of warming, and what we know about biology, geology, and many other disciplines. But lets say that only 50 percent of it comes to pass.

    Is that really a world you want to live in?

    This link leads to A History of Global Warming. You should read it.


  3. As long as Herr harper is in the drivers seat and the liberals keep helping him to stay in power there is little hope for our children. Harper is a child killer pure and simple. What a disgusting piece of filth he is.

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