A group led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is condemning Canada as an international climate laggard that falls short even of impoverished Ethiopia in the effort to combat global warming.
The African Progress Panel, co-chaired by Mr. Annan and former U.S. treasury secretary Robert Rubin, says Canada and Australia “appear to have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate,” and it urges both governments to adopt more aggressive policies aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and averting the worst effects of climate change.
The authors reject the common argument by global coal and oil companies that the production of fossil fuels must grow to meet rising demand in emerging economies.
They argue that Africa needs to leapfrog the development pattern followed by Western nations and base its prosperity on clean, sustainable sources of energy. Several countries are making great strides in that direction, including South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya, they say.
While the panel says the United States and China both need to do more to cut emissions, it saves its sharpest criticism for Canada and a few countries that are protecting their resource sectors. “End the free rides: Australia, Canada, Japan and the Russian Federation should set a clear course for zero emissions by 2050, with deep reductions by 2030,” it says.
Representatives from other countries noted that Canada is not on track to meet its 2020 target, and they raised questions about the effectiveness of measures that Ottawa recently announced to rein in emissions.
The South African climate representative noted that Canada’s 2020 goal would leave its GHG levels higher than they were in 1990. The UN has set 1990 as a base year, but both Canada and the United States use 2005, making it difficult to compare relative progress.