Leona Aglukkaq has stepped into the lion’s den. The federal environment minister arrived in Warsaw this week to attend a United Nations international climate change conference.
“The government of Canada is committed to establishing a fair and effective climate change agreement that includes commitments by all major emitters,” Aglukkaq announced in a statement before her departure.
Translation: we will do nothing unless everyone else does — and we mean everyone.
As it turns out, Aglukkaq has some extra baggage to deal with.
A European study released Monday has put Canada near the bottom of the heap when it comes to climate action — ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia in a survey of 58 countries.
“As in the previous year, Canada still shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries,” states the report by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch.
More troubling, perhaps, is the fact that Canadians themselves seem to be following the government’s cue. An Environics poll last month shows belief in human-induced global warming has slipped in recent years.
According to the Canadian Press, six in 10 respondents believe that climate change is real and caused by human activity, a marginal increase over 2012 in the annual poll, but still well back of the 65 per cent who believed in 2007.
That’s a striking trend when you consider that in the carbon-soaked U.S. — where climate change denial is heavily subsidized by the carbon industry and regularly parroted by politicians — public opinion is actually heading the other way.
As Britain’s The Guardian reported last week, a survey out of Stanford University “confounds the conventional wisdom of climate denial as a central pillar of Republican politics, and practically an article of faith for Tea Party conservatives.”
Social psychologist Jon Krosnick, who conducted the survey, says it’s the first time he’s tabulated majority acceptance in every U.S. state.
Even in the reddest of red (Republican) states like Texas and Oklahoma, 84 and 87 per cent, respectively, of those polled accepted that climate change was occurring. And 76 per cent in both states believed the government should step in to limit greenhouse gas emissions produced by industry.
This, despite the fact that politicians there have actively and vocally campaigned to discredit the scientific findings.
Krosnick notes that increasingly hot weather in the southern U.S. may have helped change a few minds about climate change. It’s not science, but raw personal experience can often be a prime motivator.
Here in the frozen north, perhaps, it may take a bit longer for common sense to thaw out.