One sentence in Obama’s victory speech stokes environmentalists’ hopes on climate change

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Barack Obama has once again stoked the hopes of the environmental movement.

During his victory speech on Tuesday night, the re-elected President said that he wants children in America to grow-up in a country "that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

That one sentence was music to the ears of green groups in the United States who were disappointed by the president and his inaction on the climate change file during his first term in office.

It should also be music to the ears of environmental groups in Canada, according to Stephen Campbell of the Globe and Mail.

In his column on Thursday, Campbell reminds readers that, in 2008, Harper promised to "move in lockstep with Washington."

"Since 2008, Mr. Harper has argued that because the Canadian and U.S. economies are so intertwined, Canada can only regulate when the United States does — and his government has said Canadian regulation will be closely aligned to U.S. policy," Campbell wrote.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May is hopeful that Obama's actions will have a positive influence on Stephen Harper but she isn't holding her breath.

"When it appeared that Barack Obama wasn't doing anything on climate Stephen Harper said we'll do what the U.S. does.  If Barack Obama became active on climate I have a feeling that Stephen Harper might say we'll do what China does," she told Yahoo! Canada News.

"The one thing that is clear to me is that Stephen Harper does not appear to understand the climate issue. He's never spoken of it in a way that suggested that he understood it."

May adds that Obama's plan of action should include taking a more prominent role at the upcoming climate negotiations, more support for renewable energies and support for energy efficiency measures.

And she does say that if the U.S. adopts some form of carbon pricing, Harper may have to follow suit for pragmatic reasons.

"As a matter of economic reality it would be easier for our industries because they don't want to be hit with tariffs and trade sanctions by the EU and the US if we operate as one of the few countries that isn't using some form of carbon pricing," she said.

If Harper doesn't feel the pressure to act by Obama, he might start feeling the pressure from the Canadian public.

According to a recent survey, only 2 per cent of Canadians believe climate change is not occurring.  The study conducted for IPAC-CO2 Research also notes that 86 per cent believe that humans are at least partially to blame for the climate variation.