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Climate News: The week in review

Published Feb. 4, 2010 by Julia Kilpatrick

Julia Kilpatrick

The top climate story this week started with a speech Environment Minister Jim Prentice delivered in Calgary on Monday. In it, he presents a bundle of mixed messages - identifying the oilsands as a public relations problem while calling on the oil industry to clean up its act, and labelling Quebec's new regulations on vehicle emissions standards "one of the most glaring examples of the folly of attempting to go it alone," while ignoring similar measures already adopted or under consideration in many other regions. (Ironically, as Mike de Souza points out, draft legislation indicates that the federal government is planning to implement similar vehicle emissions standards by summer.)

Jim Prentice speaks at the University of Calgary in February, 2010.Jim Prentice speaking at the University of Calgary on MondayThat criticism earned a sharp response from Quebec's Environment Minister, Line Beauchamp, who said Prentice used misinformation crafted by auto manufacturers to undermine support for the new regulations, the Globe's Andrew Willis reports.  Prentice also drew strong reactions from Premier Jean Charest and the Quebec media, with La Presse's Andre Pratte commenting that the federal government's decisions seem increasingly to be made for "ideological or partisan reasons" that leave spokespeople with the increasingly difficult job of convincing Canadians such decisions are well-founded. In a special column, La Presse Forum editor Alain Dubuc remarks on the irony of finding a federal minister, who is responsible for protecting the environment, openly criticizing a province for doing too much on the environmental front. 

Editorial cartoon from Le Devoir showing Jim Prentice running a cycling Line Beauchamp off the road in a red Jeep.Editorial cartoon from Quebec newspaper Le Devoir, February 3, 2010In response to the mudslinging, the Globe and Mail editorial board calls on Prentice to consider which way the other fingers are pointing, when he criticizes a province for taking strong measures to address climate change while his own government lags behind. And ultimately, as the Globe's John Ibbitson and Rhéal Séguin argue, the emissions oneupmanship may not amount to much by way of policy change, since Canada plans to match regulations set by the U.S. eventually.

In other news, a formal academic review of the emails involved in the so-called "Climategate scandal" has found "no evidence" that U.S. climatologist Michael Mann manipulated data on global warming, Canwest's Mike de Souza reports. (Download the full report from the review by Penn State University.)

Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, speaking on CBC's Power and Politics this week about Canada's new emissions target. VIDEO: Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, appeared this week on the CBC's Power and Politics with Evan Solomon (along with Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation) to explain the implications of Canada's decision to harmonize with the U.S. emissions target.

And finally, an editorial in the Toronto Star argues Canada's new, scaled-back climate target - which amounts to more than a two per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, rather than the already meagre three-per cent reduction offered under the previous target - represents a federal failure to govern that, ultimately, will leave us lagging even further behind the U.S.

Minister Prentice's response to criticism of Canada's target fails to explain just how the government plans to help Canadians move along "the path to a low-carbon economy," or to help "the poorest" nations adapt to climate change.

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