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It's not the politics

25 Jan 2023 | News Roundup

A recent opinion piece by Rick Bell blasted the Canadian federal government for picking a fight with the province of Alberta over its “Just Transition” and the Prime Minister’s strangely ignorant and belligerent early January claim that “One of the challenges is there is a political class in Alberta that has decided that anything to do with climate change is going to be bad for them or for Alberta. We’ve seen for a while Alberta hesitating around investing in anything related to climate change.” If that was true we wouldn’t blame them but in reality Alberta politicians are perched uncomfortably on both sides of the issue. In response to Trudeau’s attack the Alberta premier, alleged conservative climate skeptic Danielle Smith, fired back that Alberta was into carbon capture and storage first, before the feds. But they have nothing important to show for it, which is what really matters. But it doesn’t matter. What really matters is the staggering arrogance and ignorance of this whole plan to revamp the economy, society and culture, and the laws of physics if it comes to that.

Bloomberg recently did a “Quicktake” video “Is CO2 Removal Ready for Its Big Moment?” which predictably insisted that “In a field long plagued by hype and high costs, carbon removal startups are showing real promise. The question is whether they can scale up in time.” But at the end of all the pseudo-skepticism and hype, the conclusion was that the technology works if only we could make it work. The phraseology is soothing but misleading; at the very end the narrator, who managed to get a few carbon capture firms to give him a small vial of their various end products including “Bio-oil”, says:

“There is proof right here on my desk that this technology can work. We just need to make it work at scale.”

Oh. Just that. We created a prototype at enormous cost that won’t make a measurable dent in the problem and all we now need to do is, uh, churn them out at a profit by reducing the enormous cost in some way that we didn’t think of yet. Cool.

As for why they are instead charging ahead, well, hope springs eternal. Canary Media seems pleased that “Grid-scale batteries are finally taking off – but now supply can’t keep up with demand” as though it meant they were working rather than that they were needed but not available (and as though it were driven by genuine demand not misguided subsidies). And here in Canada, a Global News story said that:

“Newly released internal federal government polling shows that voters in Quebec are much keener to see the federal government do more to fight climate change and that [sic but presumably “are more likely to believe”] climate change is a bigger problem than inflation or lowering gas prices. And because of the electoral volatility of many seats in Quebec, any party that wishes to form government in Ottawa — including the incumbent Liberals — must account for the extraordinary zeal Quebecers have for ‘green’ policies. The political implication for the Trudeau Liberals, who hold 35 of the province’s 78 seats in the House of Commons, is that Quebec is in a position to have an outsize influence on national climate, energy and environment policies.”

The government-funded CBC was of course perky. But Lorne Gunter was unimpressed, writing in the Edmonton Journal under the headline “Trudeau’s Just Transition an investment-killing enviro-appeal to green voters” that:

“not coincidentally, crushing the Alberta economy would also help the Liberal party firm up its support in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver, where many voters are completely clueless about how a modern industrial nation and economy work, but are easily pumped up by environmental bombast.”

And Cory Morgan wrote in the Epoch Times that:

“It only took a few moments of research to find how deeply Alberta has invested in CCUS and renewable energy sources. Surely Trudeau’s advisers were well aware of this when preparing him for the Reuters interview. Were Trudeau’s provocative statements intentional? If yes, it’s worth pondering why he would light a fuse under Albertans with these comments. Could it be because regional divisions have traditionally served the Liberal Party of Canada well electorally?”

Certainly the contention of embittered former Liberal finance minister Bill Morneau that Trudeau favoured “scoring political points” over implementing sound policy, so that “calculations and recommendations from the Ministry of Finance were basically disregarded in favour of winning a popularity contest”, would explain heeding such polls. But if other Quebeckers can sincerely feel that way, why not the PM and his Environment Minister? It would be a serious error to underestimate politicians’ capacity for glib and self-satisfied error.

As so often, our problem isn’t a plot by hucksters seeking money, power or both. It’s misplaced zealotry on the part of arrogant people.

3 comments on “It's not the politics”

  1. Carbon capture (unless used for enhanced recovery or as banal as reforesting mined landscapes) tends to be one of those issues about "pleasing you enemies doesn't make them your friends". The enemies of the Oil Patch want them gone from our shores entirely, not just slightly more "carbon neutral" at source. The reality of the necessity to replace that energy or suffer extreme poverty and deprivation is something the media seems to be paid not to consider.

  2. Alberta, welcome to the United States of America. As a new state you will have direct access to the financial and economic benefits of being part of a superpower. By the way, your tar sands are now part and parcel of the lands of the United States , so you can ramp up development anytime you wish. Unfortunately, Canada will no longer be energy independent, but isn't that what they are striving for anyway. Two birds, one oil barrel.

  3. "As so often, our problem isn’t a plot by hucksters seeking money, power or both. It’s misplaced zealotry on the part of arrogant people."
    Your mistake, Dear CDN, is in thinking that Trudeau is "strangely ignorant" of what is going on in Alberta's oil patch. He's not, and neither are the other relevant players in the Trudeau cabinet. Alberta Premiers, by Danielle Smith's own account, remind Trudeau of Alberta's efforts on climate change every time they have a phone conversation. The Alberta Energy Minister keeps federal counterparts informed routinely, including when they met at the recent COP27 convention. To think that federal and provincial politicians don't communicate privately and publicly over their differences is ridiculous. The problem isn't Trudeau's ignorance, it it precisely his politics. It is precisely federal Liberal hucksters seeking money (carbon taxes) and power (seats in Quebec) by propagating what they know are lies, to a gullible audience that is too far removed to care or fact-check themselves. Climate politics IS a hoax.
    None of which it to deny that the Liberal cabinet is ALSO ignorant about the science of climate change, hence zealous in pursuit of emission-reduction goals. Two things can be true at once.

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