Jan 28/08: Premiers Conference in Vancouver to
Focus on Climate Change ...
Climate change is shaping up to be the top issue at the premiers
conference in Vancouver on Monday, with environmental protesters
promising to turn up the heat outside on the sidewalk as the leaders
At the conference of the Council of the Federation, the provincial and
territorial premiers will spend the next two days searching for common
ground on climate change.
As the premiers arrive at the Pan Pacific hotel, each of them will
have a different climate change plan tucked under his arm.
But rather than try to hammer out agreements on slowing or stopping
climate change, the premiers will instead focus on finding ways to
live with climate change.
On Monday morning, New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham will chair a
meeting to discuss climate change and internal trade. On Tuesday,
British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell will host a special forum on
climate change adaptation.
The premiers have wrestled with climate change before as a group, but
have never reached unanimous agreement on how fast, or how deep to
make cuts to greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.
None have goals more disparate than B.C. and Alberta. The former has
pledged to cut carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050, while Alberta is
offering just a 14 per cent reduction.
Meanwhile, environmental groups plan to greet the premiers with a
protest Monday morning.
Chris Hatch with the group Environmental Defence says he wants Premier
Campbell to call Alberta's Ed Stelmach to task for that province's
greenhouse gas emissions.
"All of the emissions that British Columbia cuts will be wiped out by
growth in the Alberta tarsands," Hatch told CBC News.
But Campbell is not willing to be critical of the premier next door,
saying, "Premiers will decide for themselves whether that's the route
they want to go or not."
Instead of arguing about targets no one can agree on, Campbell will
lead the effort to focus on coping with the results of climate change.
One example of the effect that B.C. has felt is the plague of the
mountain pine beetle, which is currently wiping out large areas of the
One cold winter might have killed off the pine beetle before it
spread. But instead, the pine beetle flourished during a decade of
mild winters and turned into an economically and environmentally
devastating plague, which has since crossed the Rocky Mountains and is
now threatening the forests of Alberta.
Even Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the bug that benefited from
climate change has left premiers with a problem to solve.
"They're into Alberta, and they're coming to Ontario. They're coming
to our forests. They're going to kill our forests. They're going to
cause job losses," said McGuinty.
The Council of the Federation was created by the premiers in
Charlottetown in December 2003 to boost their influence on national