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Harper's Out of Step With the Rest of the World on Climate Change

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Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood at the podium with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott to announce that dealing with climate change will not come at the expense of crippling the economy.

Harper told the press that he and Abbott would be calling on the leaders of India, United Kingdom and New Zealand to follow in their footsteps and join their fight (to do nothing).

Harper told the press that he and Abbott were just being honest and that no leader really wanted to take action on climate change if it meant the loss of jobs or a hit to their economy.

The U.K. prime minister's office was quick to distance themselves from the Harper/Abbott proposal issuing a statement within hours saying they wanted nothing to do with such a proposed anti-climate alliance. New Zealand did the same.

In what may just be coincidental timing, China and the U.K. have announced today that not only are the two countries committed to action on climate change, but that they want to "redouble" efforts to fight what they call one of the "greatest global challenges we face."

Couple this with United States President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing game-changing new regulations on climate emissions from coal plants in the United States (that country's single largest source of greenhouse gas) and you can start to see just how out of step Stephen Harper is with the rest of the world.

This fall, the head of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, will be holding a summit on climate change in New York, which precedes a series of talks by global leaders that will culminate in a summit next year in Paris, where we could see a new global pact to tackle climate change.

All signs show that this global agreement will be different. With extreme weather events becoming "the new normal" there is a sense of urgency beginning to emerge among big global players like China.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that he is just being honest when he says that no leader wants to take action on climate change if it means an economic hit. It appears that his theory is not bearing out in reality.

The costs of extreme weather brought on by inaction on climate change far outweigh the benefits of ignoring the issue. The solutions in the form of renewable energy technology are also a lucrative industry, so while Stephen Harper may be being honest, he is surely being short-sighted.

And this short-sightedness is quickly eroding Canada's place on the world stage as a convener and moderate voice on global issues.

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