The Bush-Chretien Energy Policy

Canadian Dimension, July 2001 | Go to article overview
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The Bush-Chretien Energy Policy


George W. Bush has proclaimed that the U.S. government will not ratify or comply with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and climate change. In May his administration revealed a new energy policy, which included building 1,300 new electric power plants over 20 years, a $2-billion subsidy for the coal industry; reviving a dead nuclear power industry with new subsidies, rolling back clean-air regulations, and drilling for oil and gas in fragile areas previously off limits. Conservation and alternative energies received only a footnote.

The new U.S. energy policy will greatly increase carbon dioxide emissions, accelerate health problems, further destroy the environment, produce more droughts and floods, further melt polar ice, and is unlikely to reduce energy costs.

Bush II also called for a new continental energy agreement. In the 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement Brian Mulroney's government locked Canada into a neocolonial continental energy agreement. When the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated, the Mexican government opted out of the energy provisions.

The new Republican administration also called on Canada to increase energy exports. Jean Chretien has agreed to work hard to get Mexico to join up. Canadian corporations would also do their part, he proclaimed. Oil production from the Alberta tar sands, next to coal the dirtiest fossil fuel, would be expanded. Saskatchewan would contribute more coal, heavy oil and uranium. Pipelines would be built to export even more natural gas. Other provinces would increase exports of electrical power. In early June the western premiers met in Moose Jaw and endorsed this plan. The Kyoto Protocol was forgotten.

But global warming and climate change are a reality. In January a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N. Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization concluded that average surface temperature is increasing at a faster rate than projected five years ago. They concluded that we must move ahead boldly with clean energy technologies, and we should start preparing ourselves now for the rising sea levels, changing rain patterns, and other impacts of global warming." Scientists argue that to re-stabilize the climate we need a 70-per-cent reduction in emissions. The alarm bells are apparently not ringing in government offices across Canada.

At the Kyoto conference the Chretien government committed this country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

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