The Federal Government is once again re-assuring Canadians that economic growth can be consistent with reduction of Canada’s GHG emissions.
Canada accepted emission reduction targets when it ratified the Paris Agreement. The consensus of experts is that the Paris Agreement targets agreed to by all countries are unambitious. These targets will not limit global warming to 2 C, let alone the 1.5 C necessary to prevent the inundation of certain island states.
Even so 4RG hoped that Canada would conscientiously meet these “soft” targets it had accepted. This hope was based on positive assurances by Prime Minister Trudeau and Catherine McKenna, the Minister of the Environment at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 COP conferences.
Canada’s performance to date does not create optimism that this will happen.
The Federal Government sponsored a Federal-Provincial Conference at which it sought the cooperation of the Provinces in putting a price on carbon. A price on carbon can be expected to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, lowering GHG emissions.
Admittedly, this approach is suitable in a Federal jurisdiction. But it gives leverage to provinces in which fossil fuels are regarded as an important natural resource. These provinces will seek concessions that benefit their industry.
In other words, cooperation would be forthcoming only if a fossil fuel province gets something from the Federal Government in return. For example, the Alberta Government agreed to implement a tax on carbon and in return the Federal Government agreed to support approval of the Kinder-Mountain pipeline. Alberta sees this pipeline as a vital link in the export of tar sands bitumen through ports in British Columbia.
Trudeau previously stated that the Alberta tar sands would have to be phased out, a remark he quickly retracted when Alberta public opinion reacted negatively. Since then he has consistently supported Kinder Morgan, claiming that it is the only way to include Alberta in a national policy for reducing emissions.
However, shortly after the Federal-Provincial Conference, BC electors voted in a NDP/Green BC Government, which is adamantly opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a development that was not anticipated at the time of the Federal-Provincial Conference.
B.C.’s position is supported by many experts on climate change who advise that this pipeline will increase the life span of the oil sands, making it impossible for Canada to meet its Paris targets.
The Federal Government is resisting B.C.’s opposition to Kinder Morgan, claiming that Canada cannot reach a national consensus on pricing carbon policy without this concession.
The Federal Conservative Party is against a carbon tax, and will not support putting a price on carbon. The Federal NDP must accommodate the wishes of the Provincial Parties in the two provinces that are at odds.
A Globe & Mail commentary explains the Federal Position in these words:“ Trudeau’s Goldilocks climate policy is the only one that works.” [Ed. Note Remember the comments of Goldilocks about the porridge: – Not too hot (NDP) and not too cold (Conservative) but just right (Liberal)
“Just right” means ignoring the Paris Agreement targets – certainly for the next years and possibly for the next decade.
As Mark Jaccard has pointed out, Canada has a dismal record when it comes to meeting international climate commitments. Voters must put pressure on the Federal Liberal Government to ensure this record changes.