4RG first commented on the use of aspirational in our blog “Harper and Aspirational Targets”. “Aspirational “ has now become the international buzz word for measures to reduce GHG emissions.
Nations used the word to confirm that they would set ambitious targets for reducing their emissions. By setting an ambitious target, a nation could maintain its image as a front-line fighter against global warming.
However comforting the use of this inspiring word might be, there is something missing. Would nations actually reach their aspirational targets?
Although widely acclaimed for what it did achieve, the Paris Accord made no binding demands under international law upon nations to achieve their aspirational reductions. Instead there was an expectation that world public opinion would shame countries into taking the necessary steps.
Not surprisingly, the governments of the many democratic nations, who promised reduced emissions, now have to take steps to meet their targets. At election time voters in those countries would have to be convinced of the need for action and the costs that go with it.
In Canada voters will ask questions such as:
Why add to the tax burden? my taxes are too high already!
Why should Canada take on this burden when other large emitting countries – like China – are not reducing their emissions??
The US is getting out of the Paris Accord. Why should Canada remain in, at a cost to our economy?
As the Ontario Provincial election campaign demonstrates, opposition politicians don’t bother with a platform on climate change. They think they can get elected on a promise to reduce taxes and slash government expenditures by eliminating the mechanisms necessary to meet Canada’s reduction targets.
These mechanisms are backed by the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Our Federal Government cannot permit the sabotage of this Framework. Another Federal Provincial court battle will be the result.
On the political front, the Federal Government, which set the level of Canada’s reduction of GHG emissions, must clearly demonstrate the need for reductions. Not an easy task in some parts of the country, but essential to fighting climate change.