Stephen Harper’s recent message to Canadians is stark: if you insist on government action on climate change you are asking for “the deliberate destruction of jobs and growth”.
Previously his message was that his Government would balance Canada’s economy with the protection of the environment. Why has he made the recent message so much more threatening?
Perhaps he is responding to recent polls that confirm a majority of Canadians do not believe his Government has struck the right balance between the environment and the economy. His reference to “deliberate destruction” moves the debate away from this more comfortable middle ground of “balance”.
He suggests that any government that claims it will take action on climate change is either
(a) not being candid with citizens about the impact of such action on its economy, or
(b) is making promises that it will not be able to keep.
Harper claims his government is “just a little more frank “ with the electorate about the drastic consequences of measures against climate change.
It is inevitable that action to reduce GHG emissions will impact fossil fuel companies. They may decide to suspend operations In Canada, as Total Oil did a few weeks ago.
True that if we don’t take these actions and the expansion of the tar sands is not checked, Fort McMurray will still be a boom town and the Government of Alberta will continue to run on fossil fuel royalties.
But that is not the whole story.
Reducing consumption of fossil fuels opens up opportunities for the development of renewable energy. Warren Buffet is one of the world’s most respected investors. Through his company he has large investment in fossil fuels, and in other industries that service their extraction and transport. Yet he recently decided that the opportunity for renewables merited a $15 billion investment.
Other countries, such as Germany and China, have seen tremendous growth in their renewable industry, which has been assisted by sizable government support. They got there first while Canada was continuing its love affair with fossil fuels.
Forget about Mr. Harper’s threats! The question is: has Canada missed the new energy bus?.