While O’Toole smoulders, both Justin Trudeau and the Business Council of Canada heap fuel on the fire. In the Toronto Star Heather Scoffield, their “Economics Columnist” (based on a BA in International Studies, MA in Journalism; it’s not just climate reporters who sometimes have odd credentials to get huffy about expertise), reports that “The federal Liberals are poised to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 per cent by 2030, the Star has learned — a major ramping up of their climate ambition as the politics around their current target heats up. That’s easier said than done — especially since Canada has managed to lower emissions by just one per cent over the past 15 years.” You think? Yes, and the BCC just issued a report saying yikes, we are in trouble. As in “Few Canadians understand the scale of change that will be required.” Maybe it’s because everyone keeps telling them it will be easy, with taxes that won’t cost you anything and a green economy that will make us all richer for less effort.
It is not the first time we have been obliged to suggest that when the rubber hits the road on climate change action, there will be quite a jolt and also a considerable stench. In this case Scoffield says, as though it were both obvious and minor, that “The problem, as both the Liberals and the Conservatives know, is how to actually achieve those emission reductions.” But do they really?
For his part, does the Prime Minister give the impression, when preening about climate, that he understands that he’s got a really difficult task on his hands? (Or on any other subject, to be frank?) When he ramps up his climate ambitions, does he look worried? Does he seem to think, never mind say, that it’s now even harder? Or just radiate serene confidence that we’re the best, we’ve got this, after lunch world peace?
As for the Conservatives, what have they ever done to suggest that they think it might be hard? Under their previous leader they even insisted that a plan they hadn’t even bothered creating yet would get us to Paris faster than the Liberals. And O’Toole said the same thing about his plan before he had it, then produced a damp squib.
As a general rule, people who succeed in electoral politics are not the ones who emphasize the difficulties involved in governing. Rather it is those who blame their adversaries for not caring enough to do great obvious things. And usually it is those who are sincere who are most convincing.
Once they get into power they often get a rude awakening. As John Kennedy confessed, “When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were.” But by then it’s pretty late to engage in a comprehensive rethink even if they’re not too overwhelmed by an endless succession of petty and major crises to have time to reflect and study.
Thus what you see, regrettably, is what you get, as John Maynard Keynes famously discovered to his dismay in a meeting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt after which he told Labor Secretary Frances Perkins that he had “supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking.” Nope.
It’s not even obvious that most journalists understand the situation. Scoffield herself says that “Under both Trudeau and Harper, Canada had promised to cut emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but neither of their parties had put in place a credible plan that set the country on a path to reach that target until recently.” Trouble a-brewing?
Not really. She blithely adds that “The Liberals laid out a detailed, fully funded plan to get there in December. It ratcheted up the carbon price for consumers, earmarked $15 billion in low-carbon initiatives, another $15 billion in public transit funding, and set out details to cut emissions by at least 31 per cent by 2030. As they said at the time, if all the stars align, the plan should be able to deliver a reduction of between 32 and 40 per cent. Now, the stars are actually aligning. With Biden fully engaged on climate change, Canada has a hope of working with the United States to reduce methane emissions for oil and gas production, and to harmonize fuel efficiency regulations for new cars.”
Gosh. All we had to do was elect Biden and the laws of physics changed. Wow. Or rather bosh. Scoffield makes it all sound fun: “So meeting our new target will mean a laserlike focus on what we produce, what we drive, where we live and where we work. That means government spending to support innovation, a massive switch to electric vehicles, and retrofitting of buildings across the country. It also means financing for a hydrogen strategy as well as carbon capture and storage. And it means collaborating closely with the private sector so that companies can shift their production to clean energy and low-carbon processes. In a position paper published on Thursday, the Business Council of Canada, the lobby group representing Canada’s biggest companies, said it was ready, willing and able to work with government to comply with carbon pricing, reduce emissions and fully embrace sustainable finance.”
Um hang on. She does allow that “it also implies lifestyle changes for regular Canadians — some hard choices about our energy consumption, our driving and commuting habits, and our willingness to learn new skills in a changing workforce.” But what the BCC actually said was rather more ominous:
“Energy is a fundamental part of our everyday lives. Transforming the energy system will affect everything we do and everything around us: our homes, offices and vehicles, how we travel locally and beyond, and the kinds of jobs that will be available in the future.”
And not in a good way.
As we’ve said before, if things are as bad as the most alarmed of the alarmists say, we might have to bite this bullet or possibly grenade and do it regardless. But it’s not correct to say well, there could be an issue, why take chances, when the cost of enacting the extremists’ proposals is itself enormous, and indeed disastrous.