For some time we’ve been warning that vague promises of new green technology and dramatic GHG reductions were all fun and good when the deadlines seemed too far off to matter. But objects in calendar are closer than they appear, and now all this Net Zero stuff is getting ominous. So again we’re being assured it will be easy. It will also require boldness, innovation and magic beans. “Can Canada realistically meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 45 per cent within eight years? According to one of the country’s largest business groups, the answer lies in making a few strategic decisions — and doing so quickly.” Phew. We thought it would be hard.
Actually it might be. The story in question concerns a report from the Business Council of Canada and BCC president Goldy Hyder observed “It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be costly and policy matters”. Aaaack. Which is it? What “few strategic decisions” are we looking at?
Oh, just these ones: “It includes the aggressive pursuit of carbon capture and storage projects, expanding Canada’s low-carbon power grid, promoting R&D investment and bolstering the country’s role in North American supply chains for the growing wave of zero-emissions vehicles.” Well then. We thought it might be stuff that could be hard to get done in eight years. Especially if you’re a government that can’t buy military gear in a decade… or two… or in the case of pistols, a half-century.
The story adds that “Last April, the Trudeau government announced Canada would toughen its climate targets that were initially agreed to as part of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Instead of aiming for a 30 per cent drop in emissions (from 2005 levels) by the end of the decade, the goal now stands at 40 to 45 per cent. Details on how to get there remain a work in progress, however.” And it might be pertinent here, given the media’s famous skepticism, to ask how the Trudeau ministry had done generally on things it had breezily assured us it was going to get done, like balancing the budget, ending boil-water advisories on Native reserves, or healing Canada’s tattered social fabric with sunny ways.
Instead we’re assured that “Since December, the government has received about 20,000 public submissions as part of its overall process to build the national blueprint.” Which is good because if you wanted to read and ponder, say, 10 a day it would only take you 2,000 days, or eight years to get through the stack, assuming you don’t work weekends but also don’t take any holidays. So you’d have finished reading them all just when the deadline hits to implement them… if any of them were practical enough to implement individually, let alone formed a coherent whole.
Is the administration worried? Heck no. Alfred E. Neumann inspires them. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, ousted from the Environment portfolio recently to make way for lawbreaker Steven Guilbeault (and still no word on whether under the Emergencies Act the administration will be going after anyone who funded his group), told the Empire Club of Canada “We are in the throes of actually finishing that (plan) and I would say we’ve taken enormous strides.” Yes. You would say that.
Worse, you might even believe it. The tendency of blather to go from tactic to strategy to ingrained mental process is one of the curses of politics.
What is really true is that there are enormous strides you have not even laced up your seven league boots to attempt, having no such footwear. As Parker Gallant recently noted, in a country that now seems incapable of building anything (except perhaps rhetorical castles) it would, at the very least, be necessary to “double or even triple existing electricity infrastructure” to replace fossil fuel generation with other stuff. And we cannot help noting the vagueness of that “double or triple” as it is not a trivial difference and indicates that a lot of this is back-of-a-napkin not detailed Gosplan documents.
Wilkinson concluded his parade of cliches trying to do the work of power plants with the stunning observation “But there’s still some work to do and certainly none of this is easy.”