In this tense moment, as we stumble from the crisis of COVID to the woes of the land war in Europe, let’s first try to be honest with Justin Trudeau.
The Prime Minister has now proposed a new direction on energy policy. Of particular note is his government’s call for a 42 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 for Canada’s oil and gas sector and growing opposition to nuclear power.
My own fear is that such a policy will hit Canada’s largest energy sector and hinder our most promising ones.
But in spite of all that, let’s recognize that Trudeau’s goals are commendable. He wants to limit CO2 emissions. He wants to preserve our beloved natural environment. He wants high paying jobs in the energy sector and affordable prices across the economy for all of us.
I can’t imagine many people are against those good things.
But when I see Trudeau in Vancouver on Tuesday promoting his new emissions policy, I can’t help but fear the worst. Of course, feel free to write my criticism off as a fear of change or as a partisan blather. Even I doubt myself. I admit I could be wrong. Things can end well for all sorts of reasons that I don’t understand right now. Who can predict the future?
But I’m not the only Albertan with big reservations today. NDP leader Rachel Notley just gave a convincing critique of Trudeau’s plan.
“Based on what we’re hearing from people in the oil and gas sector, the 42 percent (emissions reduction) by 2030 isn’t just ambitious, it’s more than ambitious,” Notley said. “It’s a fantasy.”
Notley is not in the habit of shouting Trudeau every day of the week. In the past, when she was Premier of Alberta, she worked well with Trudeau and came together to push for carbon taxes, the phasing out of coal, and the federal government’s purchase of the TMX pipeline project.
But now this 42 percent non-solution comes.
Clearly the Trudeau Liberals have not listened to the oil and gas sector, Notley said, because this reduction plan simply cannot be implemented in just seven years. As she put it, “There are practical, physical limits to how quickly facilities can be built or upgraded, or even projects approved.”
Some leading oil sands companies are talking about a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, but those are leaders in the field, not the entire field.
Notley also pointed out the unfairness of Trudeau’s settlement, that while the oil and gas sector produces 26 percent of emissions and the transportation sector 25 percent, oil and gas have been hit with a 42 percent reduction, when it is only 11 percent. cents for transportation. “This is clearly unfair and will have serious economic consequences for Alberta and Canada.”
In his own speech, Trudeau appeared to be hunting hard for oil and gas. It was the first thing that came out of his mouth that had to be cut. He then went on to say things that raised far more questions than they answered, such as, “Other elements of our plan include our plan to create jobs and keep the air clean by making life easier and more affordable for the middle class.”
How are those things connected at all? Moving away from oil and gas and nuclear power – which create all kinds of high-paying jobs in Canada – how will importing solar panels from China and wind turbines from Europe and elsewhere create a windfall of great jobs in Canada?
And how does adding an ever-increasing carbon tax make life more affordable? Doesn’t it lead to inflation? Doesn’t it make us less competitive compared to countries with no carbon tax, such as our neighbors in the United States?
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Trudeau also spoke of “mandatory” sales targets for zero-emission vehicles, 20 percent by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. But do we have the grid to power a nation of electric vehicles? And if we fail to get behind natural gas and nuclear power, will we have a reliable supply of low-carbon energy?
And do we really want to force car dealers to sell us a product that may or may not work well for our needs?
Trudeau took a “no worries” attitude.
“Canadians,” he said with his usual haggard certainty, “are united in the knowledge that this is where the future is headed and that we can come together there.”
But we are not united. I say that with certainty. Trudeau even lost Notley this time.
Once the high costs, economic hardship and heavy-handed governmental supremacy of his new climate plan wear through, I suspect he will lose many more.