Among the many bad moves in Stephen Harper’s new federal budget is a call to abolish the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). This advisory body was established by the Mulroney government to have direct links to the federal government. Comprised of a wide range of experts on environmental issues, including labour and community representatives, the NRTEE has evaluated Canada’s environmental record and advised ways to make improvements for more than two decades.
The NRTEE’s latest report is entitled Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada. The report delivers bad news for the Harper government, showing that Canada continues to fall behind in cutting greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Any progress that has been made in Canada is a consequence of some provinces (e.g., Ontario and Quebec) implementing forward-looking climate change programs. At the federal level, Harper’s government is aggressively pushing ahead with a destructive economic plan, in large part founded on natural resource exploitation in oil and gas that will drive up greenhouse gas emissions in this country and make climate change worse.
The NRTEE report shows Canada’s overall emissions rose 17 per cent from 1990 to 2009. Looking ahead, the NRTEE projects a 30 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector from 2005 until 2020. This will make it very difficult for Canada to meet its Copenhagen Accord pledge of an overall cut in emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.
The end of the NRTEE spells trouble ahead as it is one of many regressive environmental steps Harper has taken. It will also mean the federal government’s actions will be under less scrutiny environmentally.