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Peter Kent's Office Keeps Quiet About Report Linking Human Activity To Extreme Weather: Document


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Peter Kent’s department discouraged media coverage of global warming summit, says memo


OTTAWA – Environment Minister Peter Kent’s department tried to minimize Canadian media coverage of its contribution to a major international scientific assessment report that highlighted evidence linking human activity to extreme weather events, according to a newly released federal memorandum obtained by Postmedia News.

The memo suggestedthat Environment Canada didn’t want its scientists to actively promote the assessment of “extreme events and disasters” being finalized last November in Uganda at a summit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international partnership of governments that assesses peer-reviewed research on global warming.

“It is expected that there will be higher than usual interest in the report’s findings,” said the memorandum to Kent, dated Nov. 7, 2011, and released through access to information legislation.

“A communications plan recommending a low-profile, responsive approach for the 34th session of the

IPCC is being prepared.”

A “responsive” approach would generally encourage officials not to publicly mention an issue unless prompted or asked by the public or the media.

An Environment Canada spokesman, Mark Johnson, said this approach was recommended since the communications were being led by the IPCC, and that member governments “typically undertake a responsive role” during the meetings.

The revelations from the memo, signed by Kent’s former deputy minister Paul Boothe, come as the government is staging a high-profile media event Wednesday featuring Kent, to suggest Canada is making progress in reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

The event promoting Environment Canada’s “emissions trends” report is expected to confirm recent research compiled by a soon-to-be-closed federal advisory panel – the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy – that suggested Canada was moving closer toward a national target set by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reduce annual greenhouse gas pollution by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The advisory panel attributed the progress mainly to climate change policies introduced by provincial governments while warning that Canada would not be able to keep Harper commitments without significant efforts to address rapidly growing pollution from oil and gas companies. But its report, from June, suggested the country had moved halfway toward meeting its goal, an improvement from a previous Environment Canada estimate of being one-quarter of the way toward Harper’s target that was pledged as part of the 2009 international Copenhagen climate change agreement.

Environment Canada did not plan any public event to explain its contribution to the IPCC summit, even though the government sent six senior officials from three different departments to attend the Uganda conference last November. The conference, which also reviewed changes to the IPCC process in response to criticism about its integrity, endorsed a report concluding that record-breaking temperatures and extreme precipitation events were likely changing “on a global scale as a result of anthropogenic (human-driven) influences.”

But one Environment Canada scientist, Xuebin Zhang, was able to participate in a media conference call of experts that was organized by the Science Media Centre of Canada, an Ottawa-based charity that co-ordinates public events for reporters to connect them with Canadian academics who have published research. The centre’s executive director, Penny Park, said her organization was able to co-ordinate the event in advance, in collaboration with the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Research, by planning ahead.

“I really think that in this day and age, there has to be transparency and an open discussion of science,” said Park, in an interview. “It’s one of the elements of good policy making.”

Andrew Weaver, a climate change scientist who teaches at the University of Victoria, said he was disturbed to hear about the memo’s communications approach, which he suggested was attempting to keep Canadians in the dark about the impact of the fossil fuel industry and the pollution it causes.

“It just sort of confirms what everyone thinks – that there is a lack of desire (in government) to actually engage Canadians on this topic, because the topic may actually conflict with an agenda to continue business as usual to focus the Canadian economy around tarsands development,” said Weaver, referring to an industry that is considered to be the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

Another internal Environment Canada document, leaked in 2010, suggested that government scientists felt “muzzled” by a new government communications policy restricting their ability to speak to reporters. The documentalso said that Environment Canada had observed an 80-per-cent drop in media coverage of climate change issues as a result of the new rules, introduced by the Harper government in 2007.



See the full document here: http://www.scribd.co...me-Weather-Memo

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What makes you think any other party would be somehow meeting the carbon targets?

Heck, is any country on the planet currently on or ahead of schedule meeting their targets? With the global economic slowdown it should be a relative sinch!

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And the climategate emails...Oh right...they were found to be merely something like 'naughty boys' but otherwise exonerated.

In other news, I have a paved roadway with railings on each side placed on high support pillars with high cable supports that traverses over solid ground available for purchase.

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Yeah, they should all just stop trying. :rolleyes:

Anyways, it's irrelevant to the article which focuses on the attempt of Kent to try and downplay Canada's role for what could be obvious ties to the oil and gas industry and the pursuit of its development. One can see the logical connections as to why the 'Environment' Minister would want a strategy of dismissal and downplay of the findings of the IPCC report.

Pretty much a 'gotcha'.

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Well elect the NPD then, shut down the oil sands, watch the economy tank, then Alberta leaves Canada and opens up the oilsands again.

Besides, they are not denying that global warming might change the weather. Might as well send in a report that the sky is blue.

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You're either being willfully obtuse or you haven't read the article.

The point here, is that the Conservatives deliberately downplayed the findings from the IPCC report that they behind doors agree with, and that humans are indeed the cause extreme weather events, through changes in the climate as a result of GHG's. A report that Canada was also involved in.

Instead, their attempt to downplay the report was required in order to reneg on its Kyoto commitments, expand tar sands development, and bully other countries into leaving the treaty as well or rejecting/dismissing the findings as well.

It was an orchestrated attempt to cow-tow to the oil industry in the face of good science and data. This behaviour started even before the global meeting Canada attended through the muzzling of its scientists who were being asked to speak about their research and findings. The Harper Gov't declared that all questions would have to be submitted to it, and the answers would come from a political source or filter.

This is a clear case of obfuscation at the early global climate change meeting and a clear attempt at trying to downplay critical findings and warnings to Canadians for political reasons for the benefit of the oil industry.

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Why the shock? The oil sands employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians and supply billions in tax revenue!

It's not a matter of supressing information (as if Canadians or the world were not aware of global warming) it's a matter of priorities. As it turns out not going bankrupt Greek style is a higher priority than entering a crusade against global warming - a crusade we have no chance of stop and only a small hope of even influencing.

Seems a silly thing to go bankrupt over!

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Oh and what do you propose we do? Tell Alberta that starting Christmas there's a moritorium on oil sands production?

Tell the BC interior to stop mining coal?

Or do we simply switch to an 1970s NDP like National Energy Policy and switch to only making enough fossil fuels to support our own needs while we gradually replace them with non fossil fules?

Any of the above would be a sure way to guarantee a massive drop in federal revenues (at a horrific time no less think great depression like results) and a voter revolt in Alberta - if not serious calls for and action on outright and immeadiate seperation!

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It's fun to be glib I am sure but I guess that's the best you can do knowing that in order to reduce our carbon footprint (giant as it is) due to oilsands production we need to shut it down - along with the billions in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs it produces.

I would be shocked if even the NDP did much to shut down the oilsands even if they had a majority. The prospect of rioting in the streets by formally well paid blue collar workers tends to give a sober second thought to even the most ardent of idealists once they are actually accountable for the effects of their policies.

I suppose we can all agree to be very concerned about the enviroment. Raise the gas tax a bit. Build a bunch of rapid transit projects. Give tax breaks for low emission vehicles. Be very concerned.

But they ain't shutting down the oilsands no matter how big a grand plan it is for Big Enviroment to chip away at.

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If you had a clue, you'd know that many of those jobs and taxes are being given to foreign workers and the taxes are not being collected here, but elsewhere.

In fact, the oil companies have brought in so much outside help that many Canadians who are looking for well paid labour jobs can't find it because foreign workers are taking it at a fraction of the cost to the companies.

Fort McMurray can't keep up with the demands of the population and neither the provincial gov't nor the oil companies are stepping up for all the extra costs for infrastructure and medical costs, etc.

You think the oil sands is going to be a lasting boom for Canada? Get your head out of the tar sands.

Again....this is not about the tar sands, it's about the Conservative gov't that you voted in, being as shady as they can. Defend that.

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