Photograph by: Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS , Postmedia News OTTAWA a The Harper government is planning to put a resolution condemning Iranas human rights record before the United Nations in November despite what appears to be a breakthrough in relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Friday, the first time leaders from the two countries have spoken directly since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Relations between Canada and Iran, however, remain frozen as the Conservative government has said it wants to real proof Iran is ready to embrace change, including opening its nuclear program to international scrutiny. Canada has successfully led resolutions condemning Iranas human rights record each year since 2002, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday the government is planning to do so this year as well. Speaking to a group of Persian Gulf foreign ministers during a special lunch meeting, Baird said it is asustained international attention and pressure that will foster changea in Iran. aWe therefore encourage you to support the Iran human rights resolution when this item is considered by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in November.a Baird has been soliciting support for the resolution this week in meetings with foreign representatives on the sidelines of the United Nations in New York. Human rights violations in Iran are considered rampant, and include crackdowns on opposition parties, protesters and the media; the use of torture, arbitrary detention and execution; and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. In addition to discussing Iran, Bairdas meeting with his Persian Gulf counterparts on Friday offered an opportunity to establish closer relations with key players in that politically volatile yet economically dynamic part of the world. He proposed a strategic dialogue between Canada and those governments in attendance, which together are called the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates. aSuch a dialogue would enable us to meet, discuss and collaborate on issues of mutual concern, and to advance our shared interests in support of stability and prosperity,a he said.
Environment Canada predicts two degrees of warming by 2050
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the Keystone XL project, a flashpoint in the debate over climate change, during a visit to New York City. The long-delayed project carrying oil from Canada’s oil sands needs approval from the U.S. State Department, and Harper’s remarks are some of his strongest to date. “My view is that you don’t take no for an answer,” Harper said. “We haven’t had that but if we were to get that it won’t be final. This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward.” Harper, who made the remarks at a Canadian American Business Council event, said he’s been in regular contact with President Barack Obama. Harper said it will create 40,000 jobs in the U.S. “The logic behind this project is simply overwhelming,” the prime minister said. Harper said politics has cast doubt on whether the pipeline will be approved but said he’s optimistic it will be approved. “Ultimately, over time, bad politics make bad policy,” he said. “The president has always assured me that he will a make decision that’s in what he believes is in the best interests of the United States based on the facts. I think the facts are clear.” The Obama administration is considering whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast. A decision late this year or early next year.
Canada pushes reprimand of newly welcome Iran at UN
Reached by telephone in Sweden where he contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, senior Environment Canada scientist Greg Flato said that even in the best-case scenarios for limiting growth of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, his federal departmentas computer models show average global warming of about two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. In a report released on Friday, the IPCC said itas likely that temperatures will exceed this two-degree Celsius thresholdAby 2100, though not necessarily by 2050. But it anticipates some scenarios in which warming from 2081 to 2100 could be as little as 0.3 degrees Celsius, relative to the 1986 to 2005 average temperatures, or as high as a maximum of 4.8 degrees Celsius above the temperatures of the 1986 to 2005 period by 2100. Governments from around the world have agreed that the two-degree threshold is a dangerous tipping point for the atmosphere. If temperatures rose by that much, climate change would threaten to disrupt ecosystems and accelerate ongoing rising of sea levels and melting of ice in the Arctic; and would increase the likelihood of extreme weather events, such as longer and more frequent heat waves as well as heavier rainfall in some areas and droughts in other locations. The governments have agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions to avoid this tipping point asApart of an international commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other world leaders at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark to protect the planetas environmental and economic systems. While Flato said there were different projections about the impacts of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, he also praised the IPCC process, noting that its mandate was to take a collection of different scientific research and reach a consensus. aOur (Environment Canada) model, in isolation, produces results that are in roughly the two-degree warming range in the mid-century,a he said, describing Environment Canadaas computer modelling centre as a world-class facility. aBut if you look at all the models together, which is the important thing to do, there is a range and that range is important.a Flato, a scientist and manager at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, B.C., explained that this approach allowed the IPCC to clearly identify areas where the science is not settled, and clearly state the areas of consensus. Flato also noted that the assessment report of the IPCC demonstrates progress in research identifying the links between specific levels of carbon emissions from human activity and the resulting temperature levels. This could provide governments with information to help them decide how much fossil fuel, such as oil or coal, should be left in the ground and what will happen to temperatures if the energy is consumed. aThatas a new concept and a new result and itas described in this report,a said Flato. aAnd that does provide a way to very simply look at the amount of emissions that could be accepted by the atmosphere for any particularly temperature level.a The panel said greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere had reached alevels unprecedented in at least 800,000 yearsa and that it was aextremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.a The report defines aextremely likelya to mean at least 95-per-cent certainty.