Friday, December 7, 2007

Government hiding damaging climate report

For a government that prides itself on being accountable and transparent this government is neither. This report is bound to come out sooner or later. Why the government delays release is beyond me. It doesn't even bother to come up with some rationale for doing so. Are they intending to black out portions of the report as they did with the Arar inquiry report!!

Government hiding damaging climate report, critics charge

Mike De Souza
CanWest News Service

Monday, December 03, 2007

CREDIT: National Post file
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn

OTTAWA - A new federal report is warning of an international scramble for oil and minerals under melting Arctic ice and water scarcity in the Great Lakes, but the Harper government is keeping the study on the shelf, CanWest News Service has learned.

Authors of the Natural Resources Canada report, called From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a changing climate 2007, say many of the findings are consistent with recent international reports. They are baffled that the government has delayed its release, which was expected last month.

Jim Bruce, a founding member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, said one of the chapters he wrote concluded that changes in Canada's North could generate more conflict over the oil and minerals under the ice, as well as additional environmental damage.

"That is going to cause a scramble for resources in the North and is going to have a significant impact on the ecosystems of the North and the people of the North," Bruce said in an interview from his Ottawa home. "It will be documented better than it has ever been done before and some of the projections are pretty scary."

Bruce, who travels to Norway next week to participate in a ceremony for Nobel laureates, also said lower water levels in the Great Lakes region could hamper the shipping industry as well as hydroelectric power.

Meantime, another climate scientist who contributed to the federal report said that fisheries, including one of B.C.'s most valuable fish species, could be threatened by global warming.

"As the climate warms, there will be a change in certain fish species at both the east and west coasts," said Gordon McBean, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in London. "Cold water will move northward and will eventually result in the Sockeye (salmon) not returning to B.C. coastal waters."

NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen said the Harper government is trying to hide the report in order to avoid embarrassing political questions at a two-week United Nations climate change conference that began Monday in Bali, Indonesia. The opposition has criticized the government for sabotaging climate negotiations on the international stage and for not introducing domestic regulations to crack down on greenhouse gas pollution from large industries.

"The implications for Canadians and the Canadian economy are serious and significant," said Cullen, who is leaving for Bali today. "The government cannot just simply pretend (those impacts) are not there, and it's amazing to me that they have done so little work on this. And, what little work they've done, they're trying to suppress because it's politically uncomfortable for them."

In the Commons, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of "ignoring the science." He noted that Foreign Affairs Department officials have warned the government in an internal research paper that it should recognize the dangers of average global temperatures rising by more than two degrees Celsius and adopt international policies to prevent this from happening.

After question period, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn refused to explain why the report's release was delayed, referring questions to Environment Minister John Baird. He was unavailable for comment.

Baird will be travelling to Bali with several provincial environment ministers and a team of advisers that includes former Quebec premier Pierre Marc Johnson.

However, in an apparent break with long-standing tradition, he has refused to invite opposition parties, industry and environmental groups.

Delegates opened the conference on Monday with an enthusiastic round of applause for the new Labour government in Australia, which announced it had ratified the Kyoto Protocol and would meet its targets for greenhouse gas emissions. That leaves the United States as the only major country that has not joined the international agreement on climate change.

The Harper government has said it will be forced to violate the legally binding agreement, blaming the previous Liberal administration for putting Canada's targets out of reach.

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