Political Science 2284 F
Dr. Neil Bradford
November 5, 2014
1. Policy Issue
The issue of global warming has been a controversial phenomenon which environmentalists and politicians have struggled to address and tackle for decades. Global warming is a rise in the average global temperature and is affected by increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Even in today’s day and age, global warming is still criticized by skeptics as being a fallacy. However, scientific evidence shows that the continued release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is expected to have severe repercussions on the environment, human health and the economy. In order to effectively address global warming there is an urgent need to convince the public that climate change is real and requires our immediate attention. Green house gas emissions are a negative consequence of economic activity, which can be defined as negative externalities. Currently there are no limits to the amount of pollution that we are entitled to release into the atmosphere. “Since there is no price on these negative consequences, consumers and producers have no need to factor the cost of GHG emissions into their decision making.” (Hodgson, Glen, Gilles Rheaume, and Len Coad 2008) According to Environment Canada at 94%, Carbon Dioxide represents the majority of the total reported greenhouse gas emissions. (Environment Canada 2014) In order to tackle the climate change issue, Canada should therefore be focused on reducing their carbon output first and foremost.
2. Issue Context
The ever-increasing issue of global warming is a direct result of our ecological footprint; the impact that human activities have on the environment. “In 2010, estimated worldwide emissions from human activities totaled nearly 46 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.” (United States Environmental Protection Agency 2014) This data represents a 35% net increase of emissions from 1990. Our ever-increasing global population currently amounting to over 7 billion has had a positive correlation with continued and heightened environmental degradation. The lifestyle of the westernized world and human activities including the burning of fossil fuels has accelerated global warming. Carbon dioxide is produced naturally through processes such as volcanic eruptions as well as through the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal. NASA has indicated that since the Industrial Revolution humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third. (NASA n.d) The negative consequences of global warming such as the rise in sea levels, extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, the extinction of species and extreme water shortage in dry regions can be attributed to emitting CO2 through unnatural process results.
The financial crisis from 2006-2009 has been one of the main inhibitors for environmental activism. Following this period of recession the national agenda of addressing environmental concerns dropped far behind other priorities in stimulating the economy. Although Canada has encouraged a green economy, it has not successfully enforced it.
The main reason Canada has been unable to tackle the pressing issue of air pollutant emissions is due largely to the policymaking process. “ Environmental policymaking in Canada is a largely closed process taking place within cabinet and in intergovernmental forums where the provinces play a key role; outside interests are more marginal to the process.” (Thomas, Biette 2014: 340) Under the Canadian Environment Protection Act the government of Canada has taken a sector-by-sector approach to address GHG emissions. The regulatory impact statement declares “air pollutants negatively affect human health, place a serious burden on the health care system, degrade the environment and have an adverse impact on the economy.” (Saxe n.d) The Department of Environment and Department of