Greens slam government for breaking climate laws — globally and in Canada

Today, in response to the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, slammed the Harper government for ignoring environmental laws.

The report of the Environmental Commissioner, within the office of the Auditor General, dealt with the failure to reach greenhouse gas reduction targets and also with the failure to adequately monitor the impacts of oil sands development in Northern Alberta (available online:

“I find it ironic that a government that claims to be ‘tough on crime’ turns a blind eye to its own criminality,” said Ms. May. “This report details not only the abrogation of the legally binding Kyoto treaty, which is old news, but also how the Harper government has violated Canadian law by ignoring the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The report’s new finding was that the Harper government’s 2009 and 2010 climate plans were not compliant with domestic law.  The law breaking in this instance is not a failure to hit targets, but rather a refusal to meet the law’s requirements for accountability.  This is not a matter of resources.  It is a matter of transparency.”

The Environmental Commissioner described Canada’s system for climate action as “disjointed and confused.”  The report found fault with the system’s inability to track where the $9 billion claimed by the government to be for climate action was actually spent.  Greens counter that the $9 billion, earmarked mostly for carbon capture and for nuclear power, was never primarily aimed at climate action.

“There is a complete lack of accountability in the government’s various climate plans,” noted Ms. May. “In particular, it is shocking to discover that even after abandoning our legally binding Kyoto target, the government again reduced its greenhouse gas reduction goals by a staggering 90% between 2009 and 2010.  And even with that nosedive in commitment, we are unlikely to meet the new target.”

On the oil sands section of the report, the Green Party noted that the rapid expansion of the oil sands has taken place without adequate oversight or scientific monitoring.  “The Commissioner’s report was no surprise to anyone tracking oil sands expansion. We join him in hoping the new approach brought in as a response to the Oil Sands Advisory Panel, instituted by former Environment Minister Jim Prentice, will be fully implemented.  In the meantime, we call for a freeze on any new projects, including the Keystone Pipeline, until the science can catch up with the damage that has already occurred.”