Herding cats: climate change edition

The premiers cannot agree on how to cooperate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One might think that ten middle-aged white men might have more in common, but no. In all cases, vested economic interests trump climate goals, even though, as the Stern review points out, the cost of doing nothing will be much greater than the cost of action. Apparently, we are here for a good time, not a long time.

Murray Campbell, in his Globe column, offers a primer on how the politics is breaking down:

Alberta is resisting the call by Ontario and other jurisdictions to establish a scheme that would limit the carbon dioxide that polluters could emit and to establish a trading system for smog credits. Alberta’s Ed Stelmach is adamant that his province could deal with greenhouse gases on its own without joining such a national cap-and-trade system. He doesn’t fancy shipping Alberta dollars to, say, Ontario.

Ontario, on the other hand, is steadfast in opposition to the model for reducing carbon emissions from vehicles that California will phase in after 2009. Mr. McGuinty is concerned about the impact the standard would have on the U.S.-based auto industry that provides up to 326,000 direct and indirect jobs in his province.

… All the provinces, excepting Ontario, supported the California tailpipe standard, but Alberta was cut a lot of slack over its resistance to the cap-and-trade system. Newfoundland’s Danny Williams offered, unprompted, that “we don’t want to, basically, save the world on the back of Alberta,” while Quebec’s Jean Charest told the meeting that the cap-and-trade regime shouldn’t be imposed on any jurisdiction.

… Mr. McGuinty emerged from this bruising morning meeting with a new approach. He said he would adopt the California standards as part of a package that included a cap-and-trade scheme and $650-million from the federal government to support a greening of the auto industry. The offer was dead on arrival, however, because Mr. Stelmach was facing little pressure from his colleagues to embrace the cap-and-trade system.


  • If these provinces insist that they don’t take a disproportionate hit when an industry has be reduced, when an industry is booming, the benefits should also be shared proportionately with all the provinces. It’s only fair.

  • What happened to the national plan to cap large industrial emmissions? We don’t need a provincial consensus – if the feds decide to act, they can bring in a cap and trade system, carbon tax, whatever.

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