I read an article on the Deutsche Welle a few weeks ago that Rwanda could earn about US$1million from the Gishwati Forest reserve. Not through cutting down trees or exploiting the forest in any way, but rather through selling carbon credits to developed nations. Throw in the forest cover in Nyungwe and we could possibly earn US$2 million or US$3million more. But we might not get some of that badly needed money because Canada simply doesn’t want to hand it over.
If you aren’t a huge news buff or an avid environmentalist, you’ll be forgiven for not knowing that early this month, a huge climate change conference took place in Durban, South Africa. The Durban meeting, technically known as COP-17, saved the Kyoto Protocol on climate change; the first binding international agreement that made it mandatory for developed nations to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions.
While our developing nations weren’t asked to cut down ours, there were clauses that can benefit us quite a bit. One of the clauses determined the manner in which emissions trading could take place.
This trade, often between the West and the rest of the world, rewarded our countries for not emitting a lot of carbon dioxide and having carbon sinks (such as forests, swamps and bogs) and penalised nations that emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thereby causing global warming.
It should have been a win-win situation for all the parties concerned. It let the western polluters continue to spew as much pollution they could afford, into the atmosphere and the poorer nations could make some money for their lack of heavy industry.
That is, until big, bad Canada ruined a beautiful thing.
It has deserted the Kyoto Protocol, despite the fact that it was the first nation to sign the international treaty when it was formulated in 1997. Canadian Minister of Environment, Peter Kent, said his country was invoking its legal right to withdraw because the Kyoto did not represent the way forward for Canada or the world. According to the minister, the move saves Canada US$14 billion in penalties for not achieving its Kyoto targets.
“To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada,” Kent argued.
Is it politically correct to call him a liar and charlatan? Because, he isn’t being honest at all and as one of the largest polluters in the world, Canadians have chosen their present prosperity over their grandchildren’s future. I wouldn’t have minded their withdrawal if it affected just them. But climate change is a cross-border issue!
The Conservative government of Stephen Harper is simply making a politically suave decision, especially in this economic climate, but this decision isn’t statesmanlike at all. For the administration to choose short term goals in place of long-term sustainability is a kick in the teeth. Not just to us poorer people, but their nationals as well. Global warming will affect Canada just as much as the rest of the globe and all the money in their treasury will come to naught.
I have to ask, when did Canadians because so hard-hearted? When I lived in the nation years ago, they were among the kindest, most welcoming, polite and environmentally-conscious people. How did these nice, kind-hearted people vote for this administration?
And how did it then decide that it could turn its back on the entire world? It’s a shame.