Archive for 17 November 2011

Redefine Progress

17 November 2011

I browsed to an article on about Canadian opposition MP’s not being part of Canada’s official delegation to upcoming climate talks in Durban, South Africa. (Not surprising. Opposition MPs tend to think we should do something about climate change and would likely embarrass the government) The first thing that caught my eye on the web page was an animated ad, screenshot below. There’s our flag on there. Not sure who we’re going to kill with these things, but isn’t it great to be part of the ‘in’ crowd!

screenshot of f-35 ad I saw on
“A Partnership For Progress” it says. It would be nice if we could partner with other countries for progress at the Durban talks. It is regrettable that Canada goes to those talks represented by a government that vows to oppose action on climate change. Ours is the only government to ratify Kyoto targets and then publicly reject those targets.

Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified in 2002 with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. With 2012 almost upon us and no real action taken to reach that target, the Harper government changed the goalposts, setting a new target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This target lowers the bar by 90%, yet the 2011 report by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development says that it is doubtful that Canada will reach even that weak target.

Canada goes to Durban having stated that it will not support an extension of the Kyoto agreement and will only support a new agreement that is ratified by all major emitters, something that is widely thought to be near impossible at these talks.

Canada is not entirely without action on climate change though. Environment minister Kent recently pledged $150 million over five years for climate change adaptation. $150M/5 = $30 million per year.

Meanwhile, Canada has announced that it will purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets. According to the airforce website the F-35 is an “affordable, sustainable, multi-role and stealthy fighter aircraft”. Ottawa’s cost estimates put these aircraft at $70 to $80 million each. These numbers are controversial with current unit costs of F-35’s over $100 million and concerns that the U.S. might reduce the number they order thereby raising unit costs. Compare Canadian estimates to the Israeli budget of $137 million each and $80 million seems rather optimistic. Let’s call it an even $100 million per aircraft. That puts Canada’s commitment for these fighters at $6,500 million with delivery over the years 2016 to 2023. $6,500M/8 = $812.5 million per year.

Canada also recently awarded a $25 billion contract to Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding to build 21 new warships. The minister of public works and government services stated that this contract would provide jobs over 30 years. $25B/30 = $833.3 million dollars per year.

We can spend over $800 million a year on fighter jets and over $800 million a year on warships, but only $30 million a year on adapting to climate change? (Note the change of language from the days when they used to talk about ‘fighting’ or ‘preventing’ climate change. Now we talk about ‘adapting’.)

The latest weapons are considered affordable and sustainable while action to fight climate change is not.

We really need to redefine “progress”.