The latest Canadian federal budget was something of a parody of the borrow-and-spend approach all too common across the democratic world nowadays. Headlines like “Economic justice advocates encouraged by a few big wins in Budget 2023, but renew call for bolder action” have us seeking to hide our wallets and marvelling at endless new uses of the word “justice” to cover things that used to be considered robbery. And how hard it is to satisfy people who swallow billions and billions and go “Budget takes big steps on climate action though more is needed”. Whereas those in the reliable energy business who hope for, say, a stay of execution will be lucky to be dispatched with a newish axe. A Canadian Press story reports that “As the world struggles to find the right balance between a carbon-free future and a present that still runs on fossil fuels, Canada could be leveraging its natural-gas riches to help fuel both, a new report suggests.” Guess what won’t be happening.
Once again we encounter the apparently mysterious phenomenon of people who believe their beliefs acting exactly as though they believe their beliefs. This report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce apparently:
“urges the federal government to finally get serious about building the infrastructure necessary to fast-track the extraction and export of liquid natural gas. The carbon-credits clause of the 2015 Paris climate accord could be a ‘key driver of growth’ for the LNG sector if Canadian natural gas were to become a viable alternative for coal-fired power plants around the world, it suggests.”
Such suggestions totally miss the point. As soon as you accept that we need a carbon-free future, fuels containing carbon, like natural gas, become taboo. It’s all fine and good for practical men and women of business to speak of “a present that still runs on fossil fuels” and assume that practical men and women of climate alarmism will go oh, yeah, good point. But they won’t and don’t because, as they keep telling us, they really think rich countries like Canada must end oil and gas production by 2034.
Got it? By 2034. Objects in calendar are closer than they appear and what the climate panickers want is no more oil and gas production in a decade. No more. Not a little more, much less lots more. No more. Kindly hop into this tumbril and prepare to sneeze.
Of course part of what’s going on here with regard to handouts is what we’ve dubbed Trade War III; as economist William Watson pointed out, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland insisted that President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and other policies meant she had to spew billions into green subsidies even though made endless references to even though the Canadian government is already, well, spewing green subsidies by the tens of billions:
“For instance, the budget document proudly lists, since 2015: the Canada Growth Fund ($15 billion), the Net Zero Accelerator ($8 billion), the Low Carbon Economy Fund ($4.2 billion), the Critical Minerals Strategy ($3.8 billion), zero-emission vehicle subsidies ($3.9 billion), the Clean Fuels Fund ($1.5 billion), the National Trade Corridors Fund ($4.7 billion), the Canada Infrastructure Program ($33.5 billion), the Canada Infrastructure Bank ($35 billion) and the Canada Innovation Corporation ($2.6 billion).”
More, more, I’m still not satisfied, as Tom Lehrer once said. And so:
“The budget plan spends the better part of a page explaining why Canada’s ‘market-driven’ approach to carbon reduction – i.e., putting a price on carbon – is superior to the U.S. approach of subsidizing everything green that moves. But it concludes that because the U.S. has adopted a shotgun subsidy approach, we must do the same lest we be ‘left behind’ in the ‘growing and highly competitive global clean economy.’”
Not that it’s obvious to him what being “left behind” would mean if other governments subsidize technology we can then buy on the cheap. But what has economics to do with it?