The Canadian Government has been aiming to lead the charge on government accountability since the day they entered office. However, when it comes to accountability of climate change actions, their stance remains unclear.
The story begins with the usual suspect: the United States. The US is insisting that they will not be a part of any global climate change agreement unless there is some level of transparency and review of emission reductions from big polluters - such as China and India. And rumours have it that countries such as Canada, Japan, Russia and Australia are apt to follow suite.
The flip side of the coin is that China will not move on transparency (measuring and reporting its emissions) until the United States proves that it is serious about cutting emissions. There are a number of proposals on the table right now from various countries on how to deal with this disagreement.
To move out of this stalemate, the United States should step forward and agree to give further details of its targets. Overall, the world needs reassurance of how the Obama administration will reach its target given the failure in Senate of the US climate bill. The key move the US could make would be to announce a plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050 – and one could argue that Canada should offer the same. This would help the overall process in these negotiations of clarifying and reviewing the emission-cut pledges of countries.
What is needed from other countries that traditionally follow the US – read, Canada – is to take a step aside and separate their positions from that of the US by supporting standardized, comparable, robust accounting in order to ensure a clear and transparent process for all countries involved.
With these moves in play, China will likely reaffirm its commitment to agree to measuring and reporting their emissions – as they have said in the past. The would also then agree to a process of transparency for their own emission cuts – which is more technically known as ‘International Consultation and Analysis’.
Canada has yet to publicly clarify any specific positioning on this, and we will wait to see if they – or any other key developed country – will fill this necessary space by making a move to bridge the divide between the US and China to ensure a strong basis of accountability within the negotiations.
For more information, read an analysis of this issue by the World Resources Institute.