In this article, there is what I would call a rather unnecessary panic over Canada's failure to remain within the Durban Protocol - whose best thing is being located in one of the most fragile of ecosystems that can have something far, far more useful and telling about the issue of global warming. People are suggesting that Canada, one of the worst per capita emitters in the world, is a key issue in the context of global warming and that Peter Kent, a prominent minster in Canada's Harper government, does not want to extend the 1997 Kyoto targets.
As I have said many times, the 1997 Kyoto targets reflect no ecological knowledge that Tim Flannery and Tom McMahon showed even before they were signed, and the result is that on a global perspective free markets tend to encourage conservation in the very regions with least need - the very low-diversity, heavily glaciated polar, montane and boreal regions where growing seasons are too short and terrain too steep for economic farming, even though these regions have the advantage of reliable rainfall and that their soils are continuously forming today when those of Australia and most of sub-Saharan Africa have not been forming for 300,000,000 years. For this reason, how nations could panic at Canada's withdrawal when they have done nothing about the constantly rising emissions from Australia is quite ludicrous. If they should panic at Canada, they ought to be invading Australia until the last car and last coal-fired power station is gone from the continent, regardless of the immense bloodshed that would result.
Reduction in or elimination of government welfare services, industrial regular, farm and fishing subsidies and even environmental regulations in Canada may have the effect of actually reducing per capita and possibly total greenhouse gas emissions since with cheaper housing and more business opportunities families that are at present unaffordable may become more nearly so than anywhere in the Enriched World (though never so much as in land-rich Australia and Africa).
The realisation that Canada, despite its very poor per capita greenhouse emissions, is of peripheral importance, especially with its likely future population decline from a very low fertility rate of under 1.5 children per woman (about 80 percent that of Australia) would be a huge step forward. The only thing I can say about the present reaction is that Canada's presence, by virtue of its geographical nearness and ecological similarity, is felt much more than the more critical presence of Australia.