Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes fully supports Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stance on climate change.
Close to 200 people took to the street in Salmon Arm last weekend to urge political leaders to take action on climate change, with a local focus on Harper as well as B.C. Premier Christy Clark. The march was in conjunction with marches around the world that preceded the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City.
“Right now, Christy Clark and Stephen Harper are behaving with utter disregard for climate science. This march and rally was testament to widespread feeling that this has to change,” stated Warren Bell, a central organizer of the local march. “Global warming is accelerating; deserts are expanding, Arctic ice is melting and extreme weather events are increasing. The world’s heads of state are beginning to understand that they need to discuss ways to slow it down, and do so now. So far, our prime minister, Stephen Harper, has only paid lip-service to global warming, while strongly supporting tar sands development and natural gas fracking, which will make the problem worse.”
“First of all, it’s interesting that they talk about climate change instead of global warming, because at one time it was all about global warming caused by human activity,” Mayes told the Observer, when asked about climate change. “Because of many of those statements that were made during that time were proved to be not true, such as that the glaciers in the Himalayas were going to disappear in five years, they found out that was not factual; that the polar ice was diminishing and was going to disappear. Actually it’s increased 40 per cent. And that some of the statements made by Al Gore with regard to the Inconvenient Truth about polar bears is not true because the numbers of polar bears are at an all-time high in the last 20 years. So, that’s one issue.
“But as far as climate change, our government has taken climate change seriously and, in 2012, our greenhouse gas emissions were down 5.1 per cent lower than in 2005.”
He said the other issue is that Canada has the cleanest emissions from electricity generation in the world.
“And 63 per cent of the electricity generated in this country is from renewable resources. Which is the highest in the G7. And our carbon emissions are only two per cent of all the global carbon emissions. We have spent, I think it’s six billion dollars, on various initiatives to help our greenhouse gas emissions, also to look at making investments in not only cleaner energy but more efficient energy production. And so, we have a target of 50 per cent reduction by 2030. So we’re doing our part, and it’s kind of interesting because I don’t know what those people who are demonstrating are measuring us against.”
He said China and India need to get on board, emphasizing that Canada produces only two per cent of global carbon emissions.
“I feel that we’re doing a reasonably good job. The figures show that that’s a true statement.”
He suggested that activists protest against China and India.
“They’re not as vocal against China as they are against Canada, simply because they’re activists. That’s all they’re doing, looking at a democratic country they think they can influence. They know they’ll never influence China. Or India.”
Mayes said there isn’t anyone in the House of Commons who doesn’t think protecting the environment is one of the number-one responsibilities.
“We have different approaches. Our government’s approach has been, I think a constant improvement, without throwing billions of dollars on things that might be unproven science but also what might not be economically wise so we can remain competitive in the world as we trade and yet be responsible to good environmental stewardship.”
About 120 world leaders attended the UN Climate Summit. Harper was one of a number who did not, but he sent Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq in his place. Also notably absent were Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.