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Preview: DeSmogBlog - Rona Ambrose

Rona Ambrose


Canadian Policy Vacuum a National Embarrassment

Sun, 11 Feb 2007 18:14:11 +0000

It was deeply disappointing in the last week to see the contrast between the state of climate science in the world and the state of climate policy in Canada.While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was telling the world that global warming is undeniable and that the implications for humankind may be severe, indeed, new Canadian Environment Minister John Baird, inset, was telling Canadians that any effort to meet Canada's international Kyoto commitments would devastate the Canadian economy.It is dangerously late in the game to start defending or criticizing the Kyoto agreement - flawed though it may be. It is also disingenuous to try to blame Canada's current economic challenge in that regard on clever Europeans who outsmarted us at the negotiating table. The truth of the European position is that they have taken climate change seriously, while we have not. Per a report recently prepared by researchers at the University of Toronto, they have been implementing social and tax policies for more than a decade while Canada still has no plan whatsoever. In fact, the Harper government has only just begun to admit that climate change is a reality.Now the government has moved to a more realistic position on the science, Minister Baird is counselling hopelessness and despair. There is a better path. Another group of academics - sustainability experts brought together by the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario - released another report Friday pointing out the potential benefits of innovative tax policy, and the considerable risks of continuing to do nothing. If Canada - with its abundant natural and intellectual resources - finds a way to apply itself to solving the challenges of climate change, it can easily take a leading role in the world. Given our privileged position on the planet, that is nothing less than what we should be doing. But there is also money to be made by moving forward ambitiously as a technology leader. If, on the other hand, we continue to drag our feet, to pander to Alberta oil interests and to wring our hands in despair, we will wind up an international pariah that has to buy new technology from the other countries that are actually moving on this file.In removing the former environment minister, Rona Ambrose, and appointing Baird, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed to be suggesting that he had got the message from Canadians: climate change is real and we don't want to continue embarrass ourselves on the international stage by denying it. But now, instead of embracing innovation - instead of turning corporate Canada's incredibly resourceful attention to this issue by crafting an ambitious climate change plan, Minister Baird looks like he is getting ready to defend the bad old habits of an industry that refuses to join the 21st century.We can do so much better if only the government chooses to show a little leadership. Tags: IPCCJohn BairdRichard Ivey School of Business[...]

Ambrose out, Prentice in

Wed, 20 Dec 2006 01:23:04 +0000

Canadian Press is quoting unamed sources confirming that embattled Canadian Environment Minister, Rona Ambrose , will be replaced by Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice in the new year. Developing…

New Scientist slams Canada's inaction

Tue, 19 Dec 2006 20:40:52 +0000


The December issue of New Scientist pulls no punches in its editorial titled: Canada faces the wrong way on climate change.

As usual it is a subcription-only article, but here's a snippet:

“If there is one nation that should be acutely aware of how damaging climate change could be it is Canada. Its northern wilderness has been romanticised in literature, has inspired great art, and remains a treasured element in the national character. Yet instead of leading the charge to halt global warming, the Canadian government led by Stephen Harper is retreating.”

Canada's Environment minister out?

Thu, 14 Dec 2006 22:55:15 +0000


The hyper-active rumour mill in Canada's capital is in full throttle today with speculation that Environment Minister Rona Ambrose may be on the way out. This coming at the same time as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney stating that the ruling Conservative party will be in trouble if they don't start showing some teeth on the environment front.

As DeSmog has chronicaled, the current environment Minister, Rona Ambrose, has been far from spectactular on the climate change portfolio, beginning with a culling of the federal government's climate change website, carried by major cuts to climate change departments and topped off with a poor showing at the UN's climate change conference in Nairobi last month. Not to mention a much-hyped, but a now much-hidden US-modeled “made in Canada” approach to climate change.

With environment registering as the most important issue for the Canadian electorate and rumours of an impending election, watch the Conservative Party do everything they can to throw on a quick coat of green paint.

Ottawa's slow thaw on global warming

Tue, 12 Dec 2006 19:03:06 +0000


Are the Conservatives slowly thawing their heated opinions on climate change? There are signs that Canada's Environment Minister Rona Ambrose and the Harper Conservatives may be changing their tune, albeit very slightly. According to today's Globe and Mail Ambrose stated that, “she would support spending federal money on such [Kyoto carbon] credits if they could be verified by a third party and counted toward the government's Kyoto targets.” It's something, I guess.

But this news does come on the heels of yet another blunder yesterday by the waried Minister at the helm of Canada's climate change policy. In a heated debate yesterday on the issue of Canada's obligation to the Kyoto Accord, Ms. Ambrose repeatedly claimed that Canada had no unpaid debts to the international Kyoto system, even though MPs said United Nations documents show that – at $1.5-million – Canada owes more than any other country. Her Assistant Deputy Minister eventually spoke up to confirm that in fact the Minister was incorrect and that Canada still had an outstanding debt.

“I'm increasingly concerned in terms of the briefings you're getting on some of the critical issues,” NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

Public Service Canada "outraged" at government climate change cuts

Wed, 29 Nov 2006 21:03:33 +0000


While 10,000 EPA employees signed a petition demanding Congress address global warming – and the muzzling of government scientists, here in Canada the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has followed up with their own climate change demands.

In a press release sent out today titled: “Government Cuts to Science Programs Show Lack of Vision,” Michele Demers, President of the PIPSC stated that she was “outraged” to learn that affected employees were being asked to help manage the fallout of this latest announcement by explaining why their positions should disappear. “To ask an employees who is being told their work will no longer be required on a program to 'spin' the fallout of these incensed decision (sic) is the ultimate insult,” said Demers.

According to a Nov. 24, '06 Globe and Mail story, “The Conservative government is planning a second wave of cuts to climate-change programs and is asking public servants to help manage the “fallout” by explaining why their positions should disappear.” Climate change program cuts will include 5 programs shut down completey at Agriculture Canada, with an overall budget cut of 50% to envrionmental programs within the department. Natural Resources Canada, which houses most of Canada's climate change programs, will see $43 million cut from their overall budget and the estimated culling of 400 full-time postitions.

This all coming at time when poll numbers are showing a steep rise in public concern about environmental issues, and specifically climate change.

Prodded by criticism at home and abroad, Canada warms to Kyoto protocol

Mon, 20 Nov 2006 18:10:23 +0000


The Canadian government appears to be warming to the Kyoto protocol after a week of heavy fire both at home and abroad for its refusal to meet binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012.

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said Friday at the close of the annual United Nations climate-change conference that Canada had been “hesitant” at first, not wanting to make the commitment until it was sure it could follow through. Her government needed time to understand the agreement, before it could start establishing policies to tackle climate change in an effective way and be genuine on the international stage when saying it could work for Canada, she added. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last nine months to make sure that we can align our domestic policy with what we’d like to do internationally, with our international obligations,” she said. “And so now we can say that.”

Ambrose’s remarks came in the wake severe criticism from delegates to the Nairobi conference – especially France and other European nations – coupled with new poll results in Canada showing 26 per cent of respondents said the key factor in their vote in the next election will be the environment. Of those, 29 per cent planned to vote Liberal in the election widely expected sometime next year for the minority Conservative government.

Although, the previous Liberal government committed Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels under Kyoto, they actually ended up allowing emissions to increase by nearly 27 per cent.
Kyoto sets binding targets for nearly 40 industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012, rewarding those that exceed their targets, while forcing the rest to buy credits to achieve their required reductions.

Leaders agreed to a number of changes to the protocol in Nairobi, including allowing developing countries to decide on their own how to use the resources to meet their needs. There was also controversy over a decision to allow Belarus to take on targets under Kyoto that would allow them to profit from emissions trading. Environmentalists said it would add hot air to the system since Belarus saw a substantial drop in its emissions following the collapse of the Soviet Union. All countries agreed greenhouse gas emissions must eventually be chopped by more than half in order to avoid dangerous shifts in the climate. 

Europe attacks Canada's record on the environment; poll suggests Tories losing ground at home

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 21:03:34 +0000

While the planet is in a riptide of rising sea levels, savage weather patterns and out-of-control pollution, recent events suggest the world is waking up about climate change and the Canadian government better take action fast if it’s going to survive.  Just this week, Canada came under fire from delegates at the annual United Nations climate-change conference in Nairobi as the only member of the Kyoto protocol refusing to meet binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012, as required under the international agreement for industrialized countries. Meanwhile, a new poll conducted in Canada by Decima Research found 26 per cent of respondents said the key factor in their vote in the next election will be the environment, where the Tories are weak after their tepid clean-air legislation coupled with this week’s decision to steer away from Kyoto. The survey, moreover  found that of those concerned about the environment, 29 per cent planned to vote Liberal, 21 per cent chose the Bloc Quebecois, 18 per cent were with the Green party and only 15 per cent went with either Tories or the NDP. An election is widely expected sometime next year for the minority Conservative government. Decima chief executive Bruce Anderson said Quebecers in particular stress the environment and Tory support there is softening. “You could probably make the case that the numbers in Quebec suggest that the impact of the Conservative position on Kyoto and their Clean Air Act has not done for them what they were hoping it would do,” Anderson said. “In fact, it has probably helped drained some support from them.” But instead of suggesting the Tories tackle climate change with a vengeance, he dropped the ball by stressing the economy and tax cuts, where they have strong support.  Reports from Nairobi have painted Canada as an unwelcome guest. At home, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has faced constant criticism from environmentalists, opposition MPs and the Quebec government. This week, she was forced to fend off new attacks from France and European Union leaders at the meeting who said she still has a lot to explain.  Dismissing criticism of her government’s position on climate change as the result of “inaccurate reports and rumours,” Ambrose invited European experts to Canada for meetings in December to set up a new technology fund and establish a framework for a carbon market that would eventually be linked to Europe.  Ambrose also met with former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, who congratulated her for setting a long-term target to reduce greenhouse gases by about 65 per cent below 2003 levels by 2050, she said. Stern, who recently wrote a report for the British government that warned of grave economic consequences for the world if it doesn't address climate change urgently, has also offered to send technical experts to Canada for the meetings in December.Tags: made in canada[...]

Fifth Estate Slams the "Denial Machine"

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 19:19:13 +0000


CBC's news magazine show the fifth estate slammed Dr. S. Fred Singer and company out of the park last evening with the “Denial Machine”, a 40-minute documentary that gave context to the current climate change debate. Reporter Bob McKeown walked the well-trodden path connecting big tobacco to a group of unsavory scientists and fake grassroots organizations that the cigarette companies hired to deny the link between tobacco and cancer.

Now those organizations and scientists - and Singer is a perfect poster boy - have turned to taking money from ExxonMobil and other energy companies in return for denying the human causes or likely effects of climate change.

Much of the show goes over ground that will be familiar to frequent DeSmog readers, but it was particularly interesting watching a smirking Singer talk about the utter contentedness with which he cashed the last big cheque from ExxonMobil - even as he claimed ignorance of some of the other income he has enjoyed as a denier for hire. (“I don't remember.”) If anyone still believed the man had conscience (anyone else, I mean), that bit of television pretty much removed all doubt.

Follow the link. You can watch it on line.

Imagine if They Called a Global Climate Crisis and Canada Didn't Show Up

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 23:29:20 +0000

Oh, sorry. Is that not possible?

Gee, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to be disappointed. Even more, his apologists at the National Post, who mock much the complaints that Canadian environmentalists have laid against Harper and his hapless Enviro-Minister Rona Ambrose.

Ambrose is the sabatoging president of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a woman who only goes to COP meetings so she can disrupt the proceedings and undermine any international agreement on action against climate change.

The Post's Peter Foster takes a shot at the Climate Action Network for the personal nature of its taunt that Ambrose keeps hiding out from the climate conversation: “Hair Today; Gone Tomorrow.”

Foster has a point. There is no reason to invoke questions of Ambrose's grooming. It should be quite sufficient to complain that Canada has put forth a Minister who is either so thick as to fail to understand the the principal environmental issue of the day, or so lacking in integrity that she is prepared to sacrifice tomorrow's environment in favour of today's oil industry profits.

It doesn't matter what she looks like. It doesn't even matter that she's a woman. She's an international embarrassment - and in that, she is no less than a perfect representative for her boss.

Climate Change: It's Just Too Difficult, Darling ...

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 17:39:57 +0000

(image) Globe and Mail columnist Peggy Wente, so recently converted to the cause of climate change, weighs in again today to say that she “almost” feels sorry for Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

While acknowledging that Ambrose's proposed Clean Air Act is a joke that won't begin to address climate change within a realistic time frame, Wente goes on to say that nothing Canada does will solve the problem worldwide.

(Aside from, perhaps, showing leadership and establishing a national economic advantage in developing alternative energy technology, she's right. But I lose the thread of her argument. What's her point: that we should give up?)

Wente concludes that “Global warming is like peacekeeping, only harder.” And you can rest assured that she's gonna stay belted in her SUV, broaching no risk that she might chip a nail answering to either challenge.

Canadian Tories Have Their Heads in the Tar Sands

Sat, 21 Oct 2006 15:21:49 +0000

(image) Really excellent Thomas Homer-Dixon column in the Globe and Mail today, though with a sorrowful conclusion:

We (in Canada) need a federal government with a sense of urgency about the problem, the guts to act, and the commonsense recognition that government must play a major role in Canada's response. Instead, right now, we have a federal government with its head stuck in the tar sands.

Canadian Environment Minister Bungles Carbon Credit Issue

Wed, 11 Oct 2006 19:16:04 +0000

(image) It's always good politics to blame your predecessors in government for their mistakes, but Conservative Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is finding that tactic can be risky when you get caught making the mistakes up.

According to this Canadian Press story, Ambrose had to apologize yesterday for saying that the Liberal government had spent “at least $100 million” in foreign carbon credits. The real number was, well, zero.

And to think she's in charge of setting new policy on an issue that may be critical not just to Canada's international reputation, but also to the future state of the world.

US Expert Charges Ambrose Misquoted Her to Ditch Canada's Kyoto Obligation

Sun, 08 Oct 2006 15:20:33 +0000

An academic from a Washington-based think tank is furious that Environment Minister Rona Ambrose used recent remarks by her to attack the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Daphne Wysham, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, said Ambrose is using her think tank's criticism of the Clean Development Mechanism to abandon Canada's responsibility to live up to its commitment under the international agreement. ”I'm horrified by that,” Wysham said in a phone interview. “I certainly don't want to see Canada pulling out, did not want to the U.S. pulling out. We want to see Kyoto strengthened.” (See Attachment for full story)


(image) Wysham10706.doc22.5 KB

Has Canadian Environment Minister Had a Climate Change Epiphany?

Mon, 02 Oct 2006 17:18:47 +0000

(image) The National Post, through which the Canadian Conservative government has been floating all its climate change policy trial balloons lately, now suggests that “Tories to regulate industries for CO2.”

This would be fabulous news if it were true, and not just “positive spin on a made-in-Canada solution.”

 But this comment, by Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association Petroleum Producers (CAPP), suggests the government is a long way from rustling feathers in the Canadian oil patch. Alvarez is quoted in the Post story saying, “We have been going forward on the assumption that CO2, as well as toxics and other pollutants, would be covered in the (Tories' new) plan.” But he said he did not necessarily believe that regulation meant a cap on emissions. “You may have to have targets but it does not necessarily mean a cap, and certainly not a hard cap.”

You can imagine a soft cap, one that the industry could wear backwards or throw in the closet when it gets warm out.