Monday, October 14, 2019

Liberals the Best Bet for Climate Change

A climate scientists, Katharine Hayhoe, and economist, Andrew Leach, seem to suggest that the Liberals are our best bet for tackling climate change if you averages the grades they gave for ambition and feasibility. I know! I was surprised too. Here are their final grades:

Conservatives: grade D for ambition, F for feasibility (don't even)
NDP: grade A for ambition, D for feasibility (no details on how they'll cut carbon so quickly)
Greens: grade A+ for ambition, C- for feasibility (not a realistic path to achieve goals)
Liberals: grade B for ambition, A for feasibility (their path won't quite hit their goals though)

They write,
"It’s hard to convince people that you’re serious about cutting carbon when you’re funding new ways to transport it (even if those new ways will pay for our green innovation). But the tax and the pipeline discussions often mask the significant progress that’s been made in other areas. The Liberals are aiming to phase out coal power by 2030, more than 30 years earlier than would have otherwise been the case. They’ve also implemented a clean fuel standard that pushes our fuel producers and importers to reduce emissions all the way from the oil field to our gas tanks. During the campaign, the Liberals have committed to a deeper target—net-zero emissions nationally by 2050—and pledged a $2-billion tree planting program. No matter how you slice it, the Liberals have implemented this country’s first serious, national climate change plan, and they’re looking to build on it. . . . The Liberals have the experience to know how big a challenge it is. They’ve acted in line with their promises in the last election and brought in significant new policies. . . . For us, practical policy beats ambition without a viable plan."

Apparently that pipeline that Trudeau bought wasn't actually part of the Liberal's plan, but was a leftover deal from Harper, and any party that was elected would have been stuck with it. It appears I haven't been paying attention at all.

When questioned about the assessment, Hayhoe tweeted that she's the person who wrote this piece three years ago: "What surprises lurk within the climate system?" It's about how crucial it is that we act quickly. She knows the risks and the urgency.

This election will be anyone's guess.

Also check out this doc about the disenfranchising of youth, indigenous, and impoverished people in Canada in the last election.


The Mound of Sound said...

I have followed Canadian-born Hayhoe for years. Given that she's a Texas-based evangelical she has had her work cut out for her. That said I find the Hayhoe/Leach assessment less than useful.

For starters it is premised on the four parties' positions being comparable. They're not. There are but two in the running to form government. On that score your choice falls to Conservative or Liberal.

Then there is the matter of platforms and what we can believe. I think we can trust Scheer's promises - i.e. to do nothing significant on climate change. I measure Trudeau based on promises past. There are easy, low-consequence promises and, on those, Trudeau has done rather well. On emissions even his own Environment Canada admits we're not on course to meet even Harper's 2030 goals and, in fact, emissions are increasing, particularly in the fossil energy sector. If that damned pipeline is completed, Canada will be flooding world markets with an extra million barrels a day of high-carbon, low-value, toxin laden bitumen. Of course once that leaves the dock we accept no responsibility for what is done with it by our customers, especially the embedded pet coke. These are factors that we keep off Canada's books. They're never part of the conversation. If they were we might have to ask the question why not refine all that crud out here, in Athabasca and export far more lucrative refined product? Curious how that never comes up.

Have you ever relied on any political promise to achieve anything thirty years hence? That is the essence of Trudeau's pledge to see a carbon-neutral Canada in 2050. If he can't meet our 2030 targets what are the chances Canada will meet his 2050 promise?

I was lucky enough to get in on an online course sponsored by the World Bank and presented by the Potsdam Institute. That's where I ran into Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, then Potsdam director and climate change adviser to Angela Merkel and the Pope. He's a very pleasant fellow but he doesn't pull any punches. He told the delegates to the 2015 Paris Climate Summit that, to have any chance of achieving the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, would require the "induced implosion" of the global fossil energy industry.

So, any sign of that induced implosion, governments shutting down the fossil energy giants? Hardly. We're on the cusp of a massive expansion of fossil fuel production and consumption.

"...the US is the centre of the latest global oil boom, with more than four times more new production than the next country, Canada, over the next 10 years." That's us, 'the next country,' Silver medalists, Canada.


The Mound of Sound said...

...The Hayhoe/Leach paragraph you quote is riddled with questionable assertions. Just how many coal power plants does the federal government own or operate? I believe the answer is none. Provinces are shutting those down for a variety of reasons and it's misleading to credit the Liberals with that. They call the Trans-Mountain pipeline a "new way to transport" bitumen. That's grossly misleading. It's a vehicle for massively expanding bitumen exports, threefold to be exact. That's why we're No. 2, you see? As for this fanciful idea that will pay for "our green innovation," that's whole cloth. How? What are the policies that will bind the government's hands to prevent that revenue, such as it is, from being diverted to other purposes down the road? That has less chance than electoral reform. C'mon, there's no reason to get terminally naive about this.

The latest IMF numbers on fossil energy subsidies (2017) show that Canadian governments now subsidize the enormously profitable energy giants to the tune of $60-billion every year, almost double where we were a decade ago. Does that sound like a government on the path to becoming carbon-neutral?
The Liberal government, like the Tories before them, keep most of these subsidies off the books. That includes the near quarter-Trillion dollars that would be needed to clean up the Athabasca tailing ponds and the thousands of dangerous 'orphan wells.' Even the Auditor General has called 'bullshit' on the government's laughable subsidies numbers.

Churchill knew a thing or several about emergencies when he said that "Some times it is not enough that we should do our best. Sometimes we must do what is required." Unfortunately Hayhoe/Leach are still on the "best efforts" page and that's not remotely good enough.

The Hayhoe/Leach assessment is riddled with holes, big holes. That said it's still going to come down for most Canadians to Scheer versus Trudeau. I'm just proud that predicts that Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands won't be giving either of them the time of day this year. They deserve no better.

Marie Snyder said...

I voted last night. I live in a riding that will - likely - be easily taken by the LIberal candidate, so I felt comfortable voting my conscience, which is NDP. But immediately after, I thought, what if enough people are noticing Singh's recent words and deeds and also vote NDP, and then it ends up in the hands of the Conservatives! And then what if this one riding is enough to give the Cons a minority. None of the candidates should be terrifying to voters. But I also don't think we'll get more than best effort in this election. I voted NDP, but I hope for a Liberal minority that can be boosted through ongoing negotiations with NDP and Greens.

The Mound of Sound said...

Imagine if the outcome you wish for - a Liberal minority propped up by a coalition with the NDP and Greens - only without the worry about Scheer rising to the top could be a cinch.

That's exactly what would have happened had Trudeau kept his solemn promise to end FPTP. We do not have a democracy when a false majority can be created with fewer than two out of five votes, effectively nullifying the voice of three out of five voters. Harper's last government was a false majority. So was the government that swept the Harper Conservatives out of office.

If the polls are right, this election will bring some sort of minority. Then we'll shuffle leaders (Scheer for sure, May possibly, even Trudeau) and we'll be greeted by a new crowd with somewhat different grand promises and another election with the false majority Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

If we are to again have the level of social cohesion so needed to meet the looming threats and challenges Canada faces it will take democratic restoration. When every voice is heard it is easier to identify all the issues and areas on which we concur. Otherwise we continue our Lord of the Flies dilemma that only leaves us all divided and weakened.