So after all the ‘excitement’ over Obama’s visit to Canada some people may wonder what exacting is a clean energy dialogue? After all the media seem to go on and on about it so it must be important, right?
Well sadly it is nothing more than “have your people talk to my people on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and smart grids.” That’s about it. It’s a discussion, some media were calling it a ‘clean energy pact’, when it’s not even a pact, it’s a conversation right now. There is no new money on our side or anything significant at this point. What did you expect in a few hours of conversation?
Yet from my point of view it seems rather silly to have Harper stand up there and say the reason we have failed to reduce or even slow our green house gas emissions was all because of Bush. We couldn’t possibly do anything until America signed on. Pardon?!?! Did he just try to rewrite history in one day!
The reason nothing was done was both the Conservatives and the Liberals have done nothing since negotiating Kyoto to try and hit the target other than volunteer programs and some wasteful spending on stupid projects that didn’t help (ie: mass transit tax credit). Of course none of those work, they rarely do. Actually they did the opposite by stirring up US interest in the oil/tar sands. Frankly Canada’s big problem has been an unwillingness to deal with the issue in a rational conversation.
So here’s my two cents on the conversation we need to have:
- Environmentalists need to get past talking about meeting Kyoto. Frankly it’s a waste of time because unless suddenly our population drops by 10% and economy shrinks by 20% it will NEVER happen. There are two many failures leading up the the deadline of 2012 to actually do anything now. The best we can hope for is to start stabilizing things and start the path to reductions now.
- Business needs to accept business as usual won’t continue. They have desperately tried to avoid regulations or taxes for years complaining about the costs involved. Well guess what by pushing it off for the last 20 years you have managed to make the costs much worse. You could have accepted something earlier, but you refused to accept you might have another limit on your business plans.
- Environmentalists need to start giving ground on some things. All renewable power generation won’t happen tomorrow there is a massive infrastructure shift that needs to occur first. Also people won’t be willing to do massive scale backs on their lives. So guess what that means looking at nuclear and/or CCS technologies for a long while until things get sorted out (if ever) for an all renewable system.
- Business will need to accept there will be losers. Everyone keeps wanting to have a system where no one loses but this is ridiculous, of course there will be losers. If you have a high carbon footprint you have know for the last 20 years that it could have a negative impact on your business in the future. You took that risk and lost. Move on.
In general Canada collectively has to get past blaming each other. We all screwed up. The government didn’t do anything, the people didn’t demand something be done (well until recently) and business looked after it’s bottom line as per usual. It’s over now, let’s sit down and actually make a plan that could work over decades because that is the only way things will change.