Beginning with the Kyoto Protocol, which operationalized the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, elections in this country and a significant portion of the political discourse have focused on climate change.
There is little doubt the next federal election should be about our country’s future and its response to climate change. The world is heading towards disaster – even bigger ones than we have already experienced – with more forest fires, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other weather-generated tragedies.
What should our government do?
While I personally don’t think a carbon tax is a good solution since it really hasn’t changed our fossil fuel consumption, there are many officials who would claim otherwise. Putting a price on carbon emissions is projected by the environment commissioner to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases.
According to a recent report, we will not hit the 40 percent reduction relative to 2005 this government has set as a target. But it says Canada should be able to achieve a 34 percent reduction if all policies are enacted.
That is more than the 30 percent envisioned by the Stephen Harper government in 2015. And that definitely says Canada is doing its part.
But with an election, we are likely to get a new Conservative government. Leader Pierre Poilievre has promised to axe the carbon tax and won’t say if he is committed to meeting the Paris Accord targets. Indeed, he is being cagey about his party’s position on climate change.
His reply to questions is a promise to use technology to solve the problem. “We’ve already said we will green-light green projects, like small modular nuclear reactors, hydroelectric dams, tidal wave power and other emission-free energy that will lead to a massive boom in the clean energy that goes on to our grids and powers our future,” he told reporters.
Sounds good but realistically, is anyone in Prince George going to be happy having a nuclear power plant in town? Or damming more rivers and flooding more valleys to make electricity? Or littering the B.C. coastline with tidal power generators?
More to the point, where does Poilievre think these technological solutions will come from? The last Conservative government waged a war on Canadian research, which might have helped solve the problems.
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at the University of Northern B.C.