Stephen Harper – “greenhouse gas fighting F-35!”

In an incredible about-face, Stephen Harper has committed to making Canada a world leader in the war against climate change! “Just think of me as a greenhouse gas fighting F-35!” said the Prime Minister! “Sorry I didn’t tackle this sooner. It’s just that I’m an economist … it took me a while to realize the environment was not an externality.”

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says world leaders must avoid adopting a “patchwork solution” to the environmental crisis now sweeping the globe, or a much larger catastrophe might unfold — with reverberations felt right here, in Canada.

Harper made the comment in a candid interview with me Monday in his Parliament Hill office as world leaders are poised to gather Wednesday for a critical meeting to settle environmental uncertainty after decades of failed attempts.

“The tar sands may not be the only storm cloud on the horizon, but it is clearly the one that is most pressing and the most threatening,” said Harper.

“And I think we have been clear to say that the issue really has to be dealt with. I know that’s easy to say, and I know that our European friends have taken great efforts over the past two or three years to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But I think we’re at the stage where simply patchwork solutions are not going to keep us avoiding a CO2 tipping point event.”

Harper said the environmental crisis that has now gripped the world is a “serious threat” to life. World leaders are grappling with a mix of possible options to stem the global meltdown, including: establishing a massive green investment fund of perhaps US$1-trillion to help countries switch from fossil fuels; requiring energy companies to quickly pump more capital into their green technologies; and persuading banks that hold government bonds to support investment in green technology.

A global deal is considered critical for the world to proceed with its environmental plans, as leaders of the powerful G20 organization prepare for a Nov. 2011 summit in Durban, South Africa.

In the interview Monday, Harper stressed that he remains “relatively optimistic” about the future — saying he expects a global environment that continues to warm slowly, and with Canada’s mitigation outperforming that of many other major advanced developed countries.

“Let me be very clear that I don’t think we’re going to have a second chance to stop global climate change. I think that’s important to say.”

Nonetheless, he did note that Canada’s environmental problems aren’t confined to the continent, and that they pose an “immediate” threat to global environmental recovery.
Moreover, he spoke bluntly about how Canada will have to make the tough decisions itself, before natural forces impose their own more draconian solution.

“You have already seen over the past few weeks, there is significant lack of confidence in global environment — not just warming, but fish stocks, biodiversity. And we are seeking a solution. And as I have said before, I anticipate a solution will involve some pain to some actors but I think, at the moment, the nations are looking for not a pain-free solution. They’re looking for a solution that provides some certainty and some clarity as to what that pain will be.”

Harper said he understands that the environmental challenges faced by the world in its crisis are complex and that there are many causes to be resolved.

Still, he insisted politicians will be doing the better thing for their countries if they take decisive action now.

“These are not easy times for leaders,” he said.

“Many leaders are taking very difficult decisions. We’ve had to take a couple here. But look, what I always say is individual difficult decisions are less painful than global armageddon. And so, let’s take what is clearly the better solution. And that is to have something that at least moves us forward. In the end, I think electorates judge you on overall performance, as opposed to individual decisions.”

“So if the decisions are right, even if they are painful, I think they will pay dividends down the road. But if you don’t take decisions and you end up with a bad result, voters will never forgive you for that.”

Harper castigated the opposition parties in Ottawa for fossil fuel job-creation demands that he said would put the federal government into even deeper gas emissions and abandon targets for a sustainable future.

In fact, he said his government’s policies — targeted spending and a plan to eliminate the tar sands in three years — are appropriate for the current climate.

Still, he reiterated that if Canada experiences “markedly different” environmental circumstances, his government would make “appropriate”changes to its policies.

“As I have said repeatedly to Canadians, if things change considerably, we’ll adapt. We’ll have the appropriate policies. We’re not going to be rigid. We’ll make sure the policy matches the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

As Harper prepares for the climate conference in Durban, he is hoping for progress in five areas:

• Clear and concrete greenhouse gas reduction plans, as leaders promised with Kyoto.

“Countries, all countries, including our friends south of the border, should be putting in place plans to have medium term GHG reduction and CO2 stabilization,” stressed Harper.

• Meaningful action from some large GHG surplus countries — such as China — to adopt more flexible carbon exchange rates. Harper said fixed carbon exchange rates create situations where some countries have a permanent trade surplus, while others always have a trade deficit.

“This is just an unhealthy situation,” he said.

“Our view is very clear that an economy as large as China, and other large economies, can’t practise policies that are not systematically sound. The policy has to be sound in terms of the global environment as a whole, not just in terms of one country’s interests.”

• Structural reforms to boost environmental sustainability.

• Implementation of energy-sector reform agreed to in previous summits.

“The energy sector can’t just write its own rules. The BP oil spill made very clear that there must be credible regulatory systems on the energy sector or it can lead us in a position where we don’t want to be.”

• A commitment to resist trade protectionist measures.

“These are all things that are essential to avoiding global catastrophe,” said Harper.

“Some are of immediate import, but all of these things, if not handled properly, could lead us to global catastrophe.”

Meanwhile on the economic front …

Q&A: ‘Europe may not be the only storm cloud on the horizon’: Harper

(The above is of course satire. Stephen Harper would never take climate change seriously. “US$1-trillion” to save the global climate, ha ha! A bank bailout maybe. Or a war, but the environment! Ha ha! I laugh till I pee!)

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