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They mean it

31 May 2023 | OP ED Watch

In a profile in semi-courage, Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe says he’d love to reach Net Zero pronto. But alas, there’s no practical way for his province to meet Canada’s federal “clean electricity” standards, which call for net-zero electrical generation by 2035 and a phase-out of conventional coal by 2030. (Why the latter is needed if you met the former is not explained.) The National Post reports that “The premier said he’s concerned these changes could result in Saskatchewan being forced to close natural gas electrical plants in the province by 2035, leaving many ratepayers in the dark and causing utility bills to spike.” To which the feds say dark shmark, do it or we’ll do it to you. Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault, apparently forgetting his own history of lawbreaking in pursuit of his climate beliefs, shot back “We have regulated the ban on coal through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act which is a criminal tool that the federal government has. Not complying with this regulation would be a violation of Canada’s Criminal Code.” Leaving everyone astonished that people fanatically committed to getting rid of fossil fuels are committed fanatically to getting rid of fossil fuels. Who knew?

It also turns out that appeasement doesn’t work. Who knew? Not Moe; the Post explains that “He’s also worried the province’s only coal plant that captures carbon would have to close…. Moe said SaskPower, the Crown utility responsible for electricity in the province, is prepared to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.” But once you concede that no price is too high to pay to get rid of “carbon pollution” or “climate breakdown”, you can’t suddenly go hey, that price is too high.

He tried, with:

“It’s about what’s affordable and about what’s possible versus some ideological policy that may come from another level of government. We’re going to (green our power grid) in a way that ensures that we have sustainable supply and in a way that continues our plan to net zero by 2050.”

And the feds said great, now that we’re agreed on the goal all that remains is to haggle over the penalties for not moving fast enough. And what can he say?

Indeed, a professor of law and economics at the University of Alberta tweeted in with:

“If Scott Moe thinks there’s a reasonable plan that gets SK to net zero by 2050, I’m suddenly more confident that near-net-zero by 2035 is feasible. I think we can be confident he’s not pushing that hard...”

And as so often, it’s hard to refute the conclusion once you grant the premise. Which Moe does; another National Post story said:

“The federal government’s plan to get to net zero by 2035 is ‘unrealistic and unaffordable,’ said Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe, who released a plan for his province that reaches net zero 15 years later. Moe released his province’s energy plan Tuesday, which would see the province reach ‘net zero’ carbon emissions in 2050, holding onto natural gas plants for longer and bringing in small modular nuclear reactors.”

Moe claimed that “the federal government continues to move forward with policies that are quite simply not based in reality.” But neither is his, and moreover his critics are right that if you could do it by 2050, you could do it by 2035 if you just tried a bit harder.

The Post put the headline “Scott Moe’s not buying any net-zero nonsense” on a Rex Murphy column that actually gave Moe “only 2 ½ cheers” because his rejection of the feds’ plan was “admirably forthright” and direct and clear but “Premier Moe didn’t completely slam the whole idea.”

Murphy said he understood:

“In his wise heart he knows net zero in any year in the future is a delusion and a rank falsity for a modern economy. In the current moment, however, to say that carries insurmountable political risk. I therefore understand his reluctance.”

We are less charitable. Statesmen do not bend to the limits of the possible, they change the discussion, because ideas have consequences. And the idea that Net Zero is desirable and feasible leaves you helpless when the feds come with the handcuffs because you didn’t do it.

Oh, and speaking of political courage, in response to Guilbeault’s threat Premier Moe said bluntly “If someone’s going to jail, come and get me.” Which would be very impressive were it not for the fact that he’ll be out of office by then.

8 comments on “They mean it”

  1. All this 2035 nonsense seems to be premised on the prophecy that the Liberal NDP will win the 2025, 2029 and 2033 elections. Don't the Conservatives have something to say about that? BTW what do they say? About Net Zero that is.

  2. We can only hope that Canadians come to their senses and vote like the province of Alberta did two days ago. Putting in a conservative government federally. We need common sense solutions to climate change not the tax grab the liberals have in place. It has been proven in history a strong economy and innovation can solve any problem. Get government out of the way and let engineers and scientists develop power systems for the future. Throwing billions of dollars at the problem is not the solution. Like the billions wasted on the VW battery plant in Ontario. All that is is the Liberals buying votes in Ontario. If they truly cared about the environment the plant would have been built in Alberta where all the oil and gas jobs will be displaced.

  3. In my experience, politicians rarely mean what they say. Evidence is that what they say changes with the winds of popular opinion. It is possible that Trudeau & Co. believe what they say about net-zero, while increasing their own personal and their government's carbon footprints relentlessly year after year; but I see no reason to make an exception to the general rule so far. Threatening criminal sanctions is not a function of conviction; it is a function of sensitivity to being countermanded.

  4. Anyone familiar with Read's law shouldn't be disappointed with elected politicians. "No politician can fly higher in office than he flew while getting there." - Leonard Read, Foundation for Economic Education

  5. Trump was the only conservative leader in power who actually categorically rejected the Green New Deal,Net Zero,and the Paris Climate Accord.And he's gone,probably not to return.Certainly not the UK Conservatives,or even the Canadian Conservative Party,who merely promise to get rid of the carbon tax if returned to power.They seem to be somewhat or largely on board with the Climate Cult.A glimmer of hope with UPC winning the Alberta election,hope Danielle Smith sticks up for the oil patch like she promises.Hope DeSantis wins the GOP nomination and the next US Presidential election.It's the West's best hope of survival.

  6. Gordon: The Conservative have nothing to say about net zero. No matter what you say the True Believers will consider you wimpy and uncommitted, and the realists will consider you a fool.
    Better to just keep your mouth shut.

  7. Funny things in this newsletter are.
    We need to get net zero by 2035. and then double the electricity supply by 2050. Now most people say we cannot do it as there is not enough minerals in the ground to do it.
    By 2050 we need to replace everything we installed before 2030.
    Recycling??? I know the the turbines in the ocean will be dropped into the sea by explosives. They cannot be recycled economically. People are in dixie land

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