Answer to Question on Climate Action
and Sustainable Development
— Dougal MacDonald —
The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and its member organizations, in the context of the federal election, wrote the MLPC for responses to a set of questions about the role the party foresees for Canada in the world — and how our party, if it were the government, would pursue that objective.
If elected, would your party deliver on the commitments Canada has already made in the Copenhagen Accord and the Sustainable Development Goals, to contribute its fair share of $100 billion per year in international climate finance by 2020 — balanced between adaptation and mitigation and with at least 15 per cent of adaptation support focused on gender equality?
The Copenhaguen Accord and Sustainable Development goals sound positive. However, to say that Canada or any other country has a commitment to a “fair share” is meaningless because there is nothing in either agreement which specifies what that might be or how it might be calculated. In essence, Canada has promised nothing so there is no actual promise to keep. A fair share of nothing is still nothing.
As an agreement, the Copenhagen Accord has not only been mightily criticized by peoples the world over but also by a number of countries, mainly on the basis that it was hijacked by the U.S. and its allies, that it was undemocratic, that its final decisions were made behind closed doors, that the final document was produced without consultation, and that the amounts of money “promised” by the rich countries were paltry compared to what they spend on aggressive war. The final document itself only expresses a general aim of limiting global warming increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, well above the targets most delegations were calling for.
As for the sustainable development goals, they are set to be accomplished by 2030 — eleven years from now. Despite the current state of the world, where the rich rule and the poor are getting poorer, we are told to believe that in eleven years the world will be secure, free of poverty and hunger, with full employment, access to quality education and universal health coverage, the empowerment of all women and girls, and an end to environmental degradation. This is not serious when the richest and most aggressive military power, the U.S., to assert its hegemony over competitors in Europe and Asia, is trying to capture control of the resources and labour of the entire world by conducting wars in a number of countries and trying to subvert the governments of many others.
It should also be pointed out that both the Copenhagen Accord and the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals are giant pay-the-rich schemes. The private monopolies and oligopolies have damaged the environment in their unrelenting pursuit of profit, but it is the governments of the world who are told to use public funds to repair the damage. For example, Alberta has thousands of “orphan wells” — wells abandoned by the energy corporations which need cleaning up. Estimates of the amount of money required vary from $40 to $70 billion dollars. The problem exists because the foreign energy monopolies took their profits and ran and now expect the people of Alberta to pay to clean up after them.
This is happening all over the world. In Africa, numerous abandoned mine-sites are polluting the land and water and endangering people’s health. Is it the mining corporations like Rio Tinto and Anglo-American who created the mess who are going to clean them up? No, once again the burden is put on the people to pay. This is the problem. Unless this problem is addressed, how can the world be made sustainable?
Canada has made no real promise so there is no promise to keep. Neither will the policies of the parties which form the cartel party system to keep the rich in power address, let alone solve, the problem of sustainable development goals or deal with environmental degradation. All of them are pay-the-rich schemes which result in the aggravation of the problems and delay the implementation of known solutions.
The MLPC is an integral part of the people’s movement to humanize the natural and social environments. It thinks that the crucial element which is missing is for the peoples of the world to be able to control the decisions which affect their lives and life on planet earth. Its call to humanize the natural and social environments requires putting decision-making power in the hands of the people, not the rich. In other words, desirable goals can be accomplished only to the extent that people empower themselves. The monopolies and oligopolies which nowadays have seized control of the decision-making power of most states use any and every process and technique to maximize their profits and to hell with the environment. They are the ones responsible for the destructive effects of climate change through their use of fracking, clear cutting, detrimental mining methods, contamination of lakes and oceans, the privatization of water, fraudulent environmental assessments and the dispossession of the rightful holders of the land and all the other abuses which are increasing as a result of neo-liberal anti-social and anti-national agendas.
The more the youth and all sectors of the people say No! to unacceptable practices and work to set the direction of the economy themselves, the closer we will be to turning things around in the people’s favour.
It Can be Done! It Must Be Done!
Dr. MacDonald is the MLPC spokesperson on matters related to the environment and climate change. He is also the MLPC candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona.