Last week, Manitoba’s Auditor General reported that Manitoba is on a course for failure on its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. As of 2008, Manitoba’s emissions were actually 17.6 per cent above 1990. We are heading in the wrong direction and there is still no plan in place to get us where we need to go.
The news from the Auditor’s report was not all bad. Manitoba has responded positively to the challenge of climate change, and is one of the only provinces that has adopted a goal consistent with Canada’s Kyoto commitments. The province has put in place over 70 programs, most of which are well funded and properly monitored.
Even so, the numbers need to be addressed. We have a 2.7 million ton gap between our commitments and reality. This is a heavy millstone for any government. Given the gravity of the situation, it is disappointing to hear Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie’s dismissal of the issue as a result of Manitoba’s successful immigration policy.
Blaikie was quoted on CBC yesterday: “On the one hand, if your immigration policies succeed, you’ve got [thousands] of people coming into the province and they are all driving cars,”
Other provinces have also had high levels of immigration in recent years, but Manitoba’s per capita emissions climbed 7.7 per cent, compared to only 2.8 per cent nationally. It is not just the number of people here that determine our emissions, but the policies and priorities we set as a society.
The good news is that there are many positive steps Manitoba can take to reduce emissions quickly. If the Province follows through on the Auditor General’s recommendations as it promised last week, we can still reverse the threat of global warming. It requires that we take the problem seriously, and not dismiss it as the fault of others.