Take Novia Scotia. Instead of going along with Trudeau’s carbon tax plan, Premier Stephen McNeil highlighted the province’s choice to impose its own tax through Nova Scotia’s power grid to achieve emission targets. And Nova Scotia isn’t alone in seeking a course of action different from Trudeau’s. In the Yukon, Premier Darrel Pasloski stressed a united stance from the three northern territories against such a measure. But the one man leading the charge against the carbon tax is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
Following a piece for CBC’s Power and Politics, Premier Wall outlined three reasonable responses to the climate problem, and why a federally regulated carbon tax would be more inefficient than well-tailored provincial specific solutions to what Trudeau views as a problem. First, he stressed the need for improved climate adaptation, so as to buffer against the costs of climate change, by which each province is subject to unique parameters. Secondly, to reduce emissions through a path most sensible for each province’s unique economy. And lastly, the point that not only Saskatchewan, but Canada as well, ought to create technological solutions in high impact sectors.
It is easily observable. The threat of climate change seems to be ever present in the rhetoric of leftist politicians. Be it the Fort McMurray fires, or the Paris floods, left leaning pundits waste no time placing an overarching blame on fossil fuel emissions for singular isolated events. While undoubtedly unfounded, there remains almost a half grain of truth to their statements. Several leading climate models consistently predict more intense heat spikes from more GHG emissions, leading many disasters to be worse than they would have otherwise been. This is a scientific basis for Brad Wall’s first reasonable response to climate change. To Premier Wall, we must increase our ability to adapt to these persistently worse disasters. Given the arctic regions are disproportionately affected by GHG’s, what Nunavut is managing as opposed to what Quebec is doing, may provide a few lessons to what we can all do. To be fair however, what may be working for one province may ultimately only go so far in another. Our politicians are united, for example, in creating a more efficient model for disaster relief. The point of most contention, however, rests on the emissions reductions themselves.
Premier Wall’s second response to climate change involves Canadians becoming involved in domestic action against climate change. This comes into play whether through contacting their representatives to inform them of policy impact, or by taking the initiative to personally reduce one’s footprint. One thing, however, still rings true about representation: a citizen aught to be heard first from his/her provincial legislator and then his/her federal counterpart. Myself along with many other informed Canadians thoughts are aligned with Brad Wall’s desire for a provincially specific approach to carbon pricing. It is encouraging to note that this very point of perspective is currently shared by the three Northern Territories, and Nova Scotia.
Clearly, the approach is logical given the logistics of the Canadian economy; an energy rich West will be impacted on a much larger scale than Canada’s non-energy based Eastern provinces. Yet, in spite of this imbalance, Trudeau is unilaterally pushing forward a federal carbon plan (of which Premier Wall is mounting a constitutional challenge against). Given that Canada produces a mere 1.6% of global GHG emissions, our nation has the affluence and social institutions to do much more against climate change than simply engage in reducing emissions.
Climate change is the epitome of an international struggle; it is a global problem that prescribes a global solution. It is also true that nations find themselves in a variety of circumstance, each with different levels of affluence and social stability. This is an important fact when considering Premier Wall’s third reasonable response to climate change: investing in providing green technology for all everyone on earth, not just Canadians. Althought easier said than done, achieving deep reductions in GHG emissions needs to (and can only) come from technological advancement.
Highlighted in a paper published by the Frankfurt School UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, investment in sustainable technology happens in four sequential stages. Technology research, technology development, manufacturing and scale-up, and finally roll out. At the first level, investment is a high-risk/reward tradeoff, and can only be funded by either a robust private sector or an affluent and politically stable government. The risk/reward profile decreases as we move through the latter stages of development, each requiring less of a capital base in most cases. Canada has an exceptionally high standard of living and strong social institutions (in large part due to our energy industry). Our place on the global stage is not purely a story of emissions reductions, but rather one where we have a strong track record of investing in technologies such as cleaner coal technologies, carbon capture, and perhaps reclamation and abandonment. Each of these developments can and are exported globally.
In documenting and assessing the economics behind Premier Wall’s proposed policies, I cannot help but admire his resolve to facts, not rhetoric and his passion for advocating the logical balance between our economy, and the environment. His three reasonable responses to climate change are based upon prevailing science. Canada’s unique position on the global scale places it among only a handful of nations capable of bringing innovative new solutions to the world. One needn’t look further than the international interest garnered by technological improvements in coal technology. Brad Wall, again I commend and salute your efforts to bring the voice of reason and resolve to Canadian politics in the arena of the environment and economy.