Updated: Climate change report sparks partisan attacks - Macleans.ca

Updated: Climate change report sparks partisan attacks


OTTAWA – The Conservative government has responded to an international report on “unequivocal” global warming by slamming past Liberal inaction and renewing its warning of an alleged NDP carbon tax.

The latest report Friday from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the planet is heating up and that it’s “extremely likely” human activities are the cause.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” said the scientific report released in Stockholm.

“The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

The report says the effects are especially apparent in the Northern Hemisphere, affecting everything from sea ice and snow fall to permafrost.

“Multiple lines of evidence support very substantial Arctic warming since the mid-20th century,” says the document.

While environmental groups and some governments around the world used the report as a clarion call for action, Conservative Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq issued a statement saying her government is already “playing a leadership role in addressing climate change.”

“Unlike the previous Liberal government, under whose watch greenhouse gas emissions rose by almost 30 per cent, or the NDP, who want a $21-billion carbon tax, our government is actually reducing greenhouse gases and standing up for Canadian jobs,” Aglukkaq said in the release.

Canada, however, is on pace to achieve only half of its 2020 promise to reduce greenhouse gases by 17 per cent below 2005 levels, according to Environment Canada.

And of the reductions made, 75 per cent were attributed to provincial actions in a 2012 report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy — a group the Conservative government has since closed down.

The State Department in Washington, meanwhile, reported Thursday that the United States is on track to meet its 2020 target.

John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, is nonetheless calling Friday’s IPCC report “another wake-up call.”

“Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate,” Kerry said in a statement.

The contrast in tone on the climate file between Ottawa and Washington was reinforced Thursday when Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a forum in New York that “you don’t take ‘No’ for an answer” on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The TransCanada project to export Alberta bitumen to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which still needs President Barack Obama’s approval, has become a potent symbol for American environmentalists.

Aglukkaq’s sharp-elbowed partisan response to the IPCC report left environmental critics fuming.

“We have an opportunity to rise to the challenge of protecting our kids’ future, so let’s not blow it to score political points and prop up oil company profits,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada.

New Democrats said the minister’s comments embarrass Canada.

“This report should be a call to action for one of the greatest environmental challenges of our generation,” said NDP environment critic Megan Leslie, “not the basis for Conservative attacks on non-existent NDP policies.”

John McKay, the Liberal environment critic, labelled Aglukkaq’s release “really stupid.”

“As long as you’re not serious about pricing carbon, you’re not serious about climate change,” said McKay, something he said a number of provincial governments have already recognized.

The IPCC report, the fifth by the UN-sanctioned intergovernmental panel, is designed to provide governments with solid scientific evidence to support policy making.

The reports also make up the baseline for UN negotiations toward a new global climate deal, which is supposed to be completed in 2015.

To that end, the IPCC reported that each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any since 1850.

“In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years,” said the report.

Canada can expect disproportionate climate effects because of its northern latitude.

“From a Canadian point of view it’s important to remember that the temperature change we experience in Canada is larger than the global average temperature change,” Greg Flato, a climate scientist with Environment Canada, said in an interview.

“That’s been the case in the historical observations and that’s been projected to continue in these climate model projections of the future.”

Burning fossil fuels is the driving force, says the report.

Thomas Stocker, a co-chair of the IPCC working group, flatly asserted in an accompanying release that “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions” are required.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers noted that global energy demand is expected to grow by 35 per cent by 2035.

“Most economists agree that most of this demand will be met by fossil fuels for the foreseeable future,” CAPP spokesman Alex Ferguson said in an email.

Ferguson said the oilsands account for just 0.14 per cent of global GHG emissions, and Alberta requires a carbon tax of $15 per tonne — something many other oil exporting countries don’t have.

That won’t dissuade environmental critics who have long argued the Harper government’s emphasis on pipeline building, energy exports and oilsands expansion simply can’t be reconciled with overall emissions reductions.

Amid the accusations and counter-claims, Ian Bruce of the David Suzuki Foundation said the IPCC report actually does offer a message of hope, if governments have the will to hear it.

“Our parents’ generation didn’t know about climate change, but we do,” Bruce said. “It’s really up to our generation to tackle this problem.”


Updated: Climate change report sparks partisan attacks

  1. I really wish our government would accept a modicum of responsibility instead of continuously heaping blame the other guy.

    • Responsibility for what?

      • Read the first sentence of the piece?

  2. LOL trying to blame Libs and Dips when it’s the Cons who are in power.

  3. Rather sad, narrow, mean spirited, nasty, and pointless I would say.

  4. I feel like the CPC becomes more delusional everyday. They used to stand for something. Now, they seem to be in a complete freefall. The Liberals are all about the environment. You can’t have it both ways – bashing the LPC for their pro-eco/anti-econ stance and then turn around and blame them for environmental inaction. It is particularly hypocritical when the CPC has actual climate deniers in their caucus AND have developed an international reputation for silencing climate scientists. Pick a side.

    • “”The Liberals are all about the environment.”

      I guess I won’t be voting Liberal after all. Thanks for the heads up.

      • If the environment is not a priority for you I would suggest not voting Liberal.

        • ok, I will do as you suggest.

  5. Who will protect the environment from Environment Canada? With “friends” like that…etc.

    • They wont. Sooner or later they will disappear it[ the word environment] the way they did from the environment Canada weather site. Nowhere to be found these days. I’m still wondering what it did to offend.

      • Yea its gone alright, except I get the weather from it everyday.

  6. “Nonetheless, Aglukkaq is taking aim at her political opponents, saying
    previous Liberal governments did nothing and New Democrats want to kill
    jobs with a cap-and-trade system.”

    Uh huh…a cap and trade system the tories backed for a fraction of an election cycle until they’d hammered Dion in the head enough for proposing the green shift/plan , which, though i haven’t seen it, i’m told did put a workable plan forward. The problem was it got a lot of opposition from AB, aided and abetted by the Harper boys in opposition, no doubt cheerd on by ms Aglukkaq from the warming north.

    Not to excuse the liberals, it was their watch; but given the difficulties the Harper boys are having in putting a plan together that pleases industry types, i’d say this is a bit rich.
    But generosity of political spirit is out of vogue these days in Ottawa for some reason.

  7. “Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says in a release that Canada is playing a leadership role in addressing climate change…”

    To be fair, this is absolutely true. Canada is THE world leader in waiting for the US to do something, along with entire developing world. Nobody, nowhere, can do so little and still be so sanctimonious about it.

    • isn’t canadian environmental policy basically mirrors the US one?

  8. Im sure she is a nice person but her boss is busy promoting tar sand fuels to the US, China and Europe. He is trying to push pipelines where they are unnecessary and unwanted and dismissing or suppressing any scientific evidence that conflicts with his ideology. Sadly, it is our children and grandchildren who will suffer most from the governments short-sightedness.

    • ” Sadly, it is our children and grandchildren who will suffer most from the governments short-sightedness.”

      But aren’t you one of those who advocate depopulating the world? It seems odd that you would care about children and grandchildren.

  9. Canada should be a world leader in responsible use of our carbon resources. No oil, coal or gas should leave our territory unconverted to a green energy form.
    Carbon resources may be burned and the the co2 produced by burning oil, coal, or natural gas can be sequestered with limestone that is readily available. The energy produced can then be exported in the form of hydrogen or electricity.
    This kind of energy transformation could be a growth industry for Canada.

    • So start the industry already. You’ll make billions. Get on it.

  10. “extremely likely” human activities are the cause.
    I believe the estimate was 95% certain human activities are the cause. Oh, they also said that the “tipping point” is about 30 years away given present day numbers.
    No doubt the anti-science CRAP caucus is busy looking at potential beachfront property in Kelowna.

    • Yea, they take 1000 climate variables, each running at around 50% probability and then conclude with 95% probability. Lol!

      If I had tried to pulled a trick like that in science, they would have tossed me out on my ear.

      • I think they did considering what you write

      • Newsflash genius. Climate science is conducted the same way as all the other science out there. The same tools, processes, methodologies and peer review that turns out technological innovations like semiconductors and global positioning satellites are at work here. Statistics also play a huge role in science. The confirmation of the higgs boson was confirmed by way of probability and statistics. All you’ve done so far is point out the fact that you don’t know what you’re talking about; and you probably gave up on learning a long time ago. You’re just a troll. Unfortunately for the rest of civilization you’re probably still clever enough to cast a ballot.

        • True, real science uses stats. The trouble with climate science is that it has been hijacked by the political left like the IPCC, so when they confirm something they wield the information like a club. The mythical hockey stick comes to mind. When something else is confirmed to be wrong, the greens ignore the results and still use it like a club.

          The Antarctic ice extent for example, presently at the highest extent ever recorded, yet all we hear from the greens is that the Antarctic is shrinking and we’re all going to die. Or the 17 year temperature plateau, the IPCC tried to ignore it when they published their report a few weeks ago. They tried to say that the missing heat has been absorbed into the deep ocean, but they forgot that the Argo buoys recorded no increase in ocean temps, so the missing heat got past the upper ocean without being noticed. Wow.

          And then they conclude that they have a 95% probability. Its not climate science that has made this conclusion, its the IPCC.

          • Nice conspiracy theory. Unfortunately you’re seriously misinformed. You do realize you’re using the same type of reasoning as young earth creationists, or people that try to refute evolution right? You try to cherry pick evidence, typically improperly described, to draw attention to it’s supposed failures, while completely ignoring the huge amount of evidence supporting that which you’re trying to refute. The IPCC aside, scientists aren’t arguing about global warming. They haven’t been for a long time. Nobody in the scientific community is arguing about global warming. The consensus among the climate science community is 97% and even that finding was published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. The IPCC isn’t a policy center. The IPCC is just reporting on the science as published by scientists in peer reviewed journals. If you disagree with their results, you are disagreeing with the combined expertise of every climate scientist on the planet. You might as well be claiming that despite what every geologist on the planet says, the world is 3000 years old.
            The only reason there ever was a ‘debate’, is because of a gross failure of news agencies to report on science properly by giving equal screentime to the scientists and the loonies, when it should’ve been determined by the level of relevance. If that was the case you’d never have come across to this twisted outlook on climate change. Stop pretending there’s a vast conspiracy by “the left”, and use your head. Spend some time critically considering your own opinions and ensure they are based on the evidence and facts before spewing them in public forums.
            Start by actually reading the IPCC reports… or you can shortcut to this website… http://www.skepticalscience.com

          • “You do realize you’re using the same type of reasoning as young earth creationists, or people that try to refute evolution right? ”

            Um, I think some of those anti-evolutionists might ask you to name one species of organism which has been clearly demonstrated to have changed into another species. Just one example would help them see the light, I’m sure.

            Wow, you actually provided a link to SkepticalScience. That’s equivalent to me providing you with a link to something written by Lord Christopher Monckton of Brenchley. Lol!


          • You’re running with the incorrect assumption on both accounts that there isn’t a mountain of scientific evidence which justifies both claims. Much like evolution, within climate science the scientific discussion and research is so far removed from the initial question of whether or not it is true to begin with, even questioning those claims at this point is beyond ridiculous. IF there was serious evidence which refuted climate change, and even anthropogenic climate change at this point, and that evidence passed the scrutiny that all other scientific knowledge is subject to ie. peer review, a nobel prize would most certainly be awarded to the individual(s) who published that discovery.

            Scientists currently agree with 97% certainty that not only global warming and climate change are real, which is a foregone conclusion. But that athropogenic global warming is a reality.

            If you want to challenge the vast majority, (97%), of climate scientists out there on the validity of their results, submit a paper for peer review. Until that point, recognize your incompetence, trust in their capacity to do their job, and give up on polluting the discussion with misinformation.

          • There’s a 97% chance that is not going to happen Geoffie.

            What arrogance to suggest to anyone that they should sit back and not question theory, not question evidence, not challenge results, to faithfully trust a group of experts or merely believe in a myth of 97% agreement. The science I was taught included questioning evidence at every opportunity and to expect to be questioned yourself. What naivete you openly display.

            But the thing is, if someone actually did disprove AGW and a peer reviewed paper claimed that there is 97% agreement that AGW was all just a big misunderstanding, I can guarantee that you’d be questioning the new theory, questioning the evidence, distrusting the experts and holding their feet to the fire just like I try to do.


  11. People may look back at Dion differently in the not too distant future…

    • Don’t think so, Failed leaders are just that. FAILED.

    • Um, no. I don’t think they will. Not at all.

  12. Glo-Bull Warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in human history.

    • ah, Billy, you’re a wee bit late with the talking points, laddie

  13. Is the climate changing? Of course. The climate always has changed and always will.
    Is the earth getting warmer? We should hope so for at least two reasons: First, the world emerged from the Little Ice Age in the 19th century, so it would be worrisome if it weren’t getting warmer. Second, all the history indicates that humans thrive more during warmer periods than colder ones. It is likely, though, that earth has warmed less than many official temperature records indicate for a variety of reasons, including: few long-term records from either the southern hemisphere or the 71 percent of the planet that is covered by water; distortions from the urban heat-island effect and other faulty siting (e.g., temperature sensors next to asphalt parking lots, etc.; the decline in weather station reports from Siberia after the fall of the Soviet government; the arbitrarily ceasing to include measurements from northern latitudes and high elevations, etc.) The most accurate measures of temperature come from satellites. Since the start of these measurements in 1979, they show minor fluctuations and an insignificant net change in global temperature.
    Is the earth getting dangerously warm? Probably not, since the earth was warmer than it is now in 7000 of the last 10,000 years. By the way, does anybody know what the “right” amount of global heat is?
    Are we humans causing the warming by our carbon emissions? Actually, most of the “greenhouse effect” is due to water vapor, which makes one wonder why the EPA hasn’t designated H2O a harmful pollutant that they must regulate. Meteorologist Brian Sussman’s calculations in his book “Climategate” show humanity’s share of the greenhouse effect as .9 of 1 percent.
    It’s even possible that CO2 may not affect global warming at all. During many stretches of planetary history, there has been no correlation between the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature. In other long stretches, the variations of the two factors followed a significant sequence: increases in CO2 followed increases in warmth by several centuries. You don’t need to have a degree in climate science to know that, in a temporal universe, cause does not follow its effect.
    Even global warming alarmists have tacitly conceded that CO2 is not the primary driver of climate change when they responded to the relative cooling in recent years by changing their story and telling us that the earth is likely to cool for a few decades in spite of still-increasing atmospheric CO2. Translation: other factors outweigh CO2 in their impact on global temperatures. Those other factors include variations in solar activity (accounting for 3/4 of the variability in earth’s temperature according to the Marshall Institute); changes in earth’s orbit and axis; albedo (reflectivity, meaning changes in cloud cover which are influenced by fluctuations in gamma ray activity); and volcanic and tectonic activity in the earth’s crust. For humans to presume that they are more than a gnat on an elephant’s rump in terms of impact on climate change is vain and delusive.

    • I got to 13 falsehoods in your comment before I stopped counting.

    • Yea, and after being badgered into admitting that there has been almost no warming over the last 16 years, the IPCC report says that the missing heat has been buried in the deep oceans. Unfortunately, down so deep we have no way of measuring it. Lol!

      I think that’s my favorite part of the IPCC report so far. When I read it, I sprayed my coffee.

      • Except the Report doesn’t say that.
        The spraying coffee was a nice touch, though. It adds a visual that makes the lie more dimension.
        So where did you read that? A kook blog? Was it the popular kook that reads the weather on the radio?

        • dimensional

        • Rush Limbaugh of course, he’s a climate scientist right?

  14. As CO2 concentrations continue to increase unabated:

    Global atmospheric temperatures have stagnated for well over a decade now:

    Despite 95% confident IPCC predictions of continued rapid increase:

    The CAGW paradigm is in its last death throes, collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions and failures.

    • Glynn keeps repeating the same debunked crap.

      Why won’t he answer this question?:

      If the first week in April is warmer than the last, despite the Earth’s axis continuing to tilt the northern hemisphere further and further towards the sun, does this lead you to believe that August will be no warmer than April and that the the Earth’s axis has no affect on seasonal temperatures – in fact there are no seasons at all?

  15. The most astonishing admission thus far in the IPCC report is that climate scientists no longer agree on climate sensitivity, this is after many years of being in complete agreement. Climate sensitivity is the foundation of their climate models.

    If they cannot agree on sensitivity, there is no way to arrive at 95% confidence. In other words, their 95% thingy is little more than an opinion, a feeling. Lol!

    • There has never been a precise agreement on sensitivity. There has been, and continues to be, an agreement on a sensitivity range.
      The report removed only the sensitivity “best guess”.

  16. You news editors could have ended this debate 30 years ago by telling your readers that it was never a real consensus because they never agreed it WILL be a crisis and never agreed on anything past “could be”. A consensus of “maybe” is a consensus of nothing so could you please stop telling us it WILL happen when science has not?
    Prove me wrong.