Ottawa The Sierra Club of Canada, an independent environmental organization, today released its eleventh annual RIO Report Card. The Report Card was initially a product of the Rio Watch Project launched after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In this year, the RIO Report Card was updated and renamed the Report on International Obligations (RIO). The research and data used for the report was gathered in conjunction with thirty other non-government organizations.
We have been known as tough graders, and this year was no exception, noted Executive Director Elizabeth May. But in a year when Kyoto was ratified and commitments made to ten new national parks, the federal grades made a significant jump. The federal grade on climate change was broken in two, with an A for ratification of Kyoto and an incomplete on implementation.
The next highest federal grade was for honouring our national commitments to biodiversity protection (B+) while the lowest federal grade, an F, was for integration of environmental and trade objectives. The government lost points for weakening the implementation of the Species at Risk Act by delaying key sections. The federal management of marine resources, after a thorough review, gained a C, with strong messages to Minister Thibault that life in the oceans is at risk. The RIO Report Card supported Thibaults decision on the Newfoundland cod stocks, urged him to protect sensitive fisheries from oil and gas, and follow through on commitments to protect BC wild salmon.
Meanwhile, some provinces also made impressive gains. The top provincial marks this year went to the former Quebec government of Bernard Landry. After years of neglect, the province finally began protecting wilderness, moving from a D to a B on biodiversity, while being graded the highest provincial mark in climate change, A-. New Brunswick was the next best performing province, with a B for climate change and a weaker C+ for biodiversity. At the bottom of the heap came Alberta and British Columbia. Both the governments of Ralph Klein and Gordon Campbell received double Fs. Ernie Eves of Ontario did slightly better with a D- in Biodiversity and an F for climate change.
In looking for trends, it appears that death-bed conversions are good for the environment, commented Elizabeth May, As Chrétien says his long good-bye, he is at long last delivering on the promises Paul Martin wrote into Red Book 1. Faced with an election, Quebecs Premier Landry (who lost) and New Brunswicks Premier Bernard Lord (who squeaked through) seem to have improved their performance. Lets hope the same phenomenon strikes soon for Nova Scotias Premier John Hamm, trailing all other East Coast Premiers with two Fs and a C. As Nova Scotias government has promised its Green Plan any day, the failing grades for N.S. are provisional. The RIO Report Card will be re-issued for John Hamms government if his plan protects key terrestrial and marine ecosystems and human health.
No explanation of trends is perfect. Despite an election, Manitobas performance on biodiversity did not improve, although the province did improve its climate change grade.
This year's RIO report, as well as previous years Rio Report Cards can be found on the Sierra Club of Canada website: www.sierraclub.ca/national/rio/.