Outlook cloudy for climate policies

Columnist Tom Fletcher shares his views on climate policies

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau came to Vancouver last week to unveil his environmental platform for the Oct. 19 federal election.

Trudeau promised an overhaul of the National Energy Board and a vaguely defined intention to work with provinces to impose a “price” on carbon dioxide emissions across the country. Trudeau’s media tour took him to the Burnaby facilities of General Fusion, where, like Premier Christy Clark a few weeks before, he stood at his podium before a prototype fusion reactor. This massive octopus of pistons and wires is an attempt to capture the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and other stars, containing its fury within steel walls and magnetic fields.

The old joke about controlled fusion is that every 20 years, scientists tell us it’s just 20 years away. If it ever is developed, such a process could quickly put an end to our hand-wringing about fossil fuels, largely replacing them with endless, emission-free energy.

This is the type of technological revolution that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s officials indicated would be needed, after Canada announced a pledge with other G7 leaders to make their economies carbon-free by 2100. That’s right, some time within the next 85 years.

Clark visited General Fusion in May to announce her new climate action advisory panel, which has to give her a plan to take to Paris next December. That’s the next big United Nations climate summit, where Trudeau hopes to lead a delegation of premiers to stop the flow of “fossil awards” given to Canada by people in polar bear suits.

Asked about the fusion reactor she had just toured, Clark laughed off the question, comparing it to the “flux capacitor” used for time travel in the Michael J. Fox movie ‘Back to the Future’.

Trudeau recently told university students that we need to change our concepts of time and space, and he didn’t seem to be kidding. The point here for voters is that all these leaders, Harper, Trudeau, Clark and many others, are talking down to you. You aren’t sophisticated enough to understand this climate business.

The Pope has weighed in, assuring us that carbon trading systems are not going to cut it. This is a rebuke to California, Quebec and the European Union, where effective carbon trading is, like controlled fusion, just around the corner.

Pope Francis warned that our “throwaway culture” views nature “solely as a source of profit and gain” and so people won’t voluntarily do the right thing. (The results of the Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite could be interpreted this way, if you ignore the bumbling, waste and political posturing that really did it in.) The Pope concludes that there is “an urgent need” for a “true world political authority” to impose order on the greedy capitalist humans that infest our beautiful planet. Presumably this would be the run by the UN, so my advice is to start hoarding candles and cat food now.

B.C.’s frozen carbon tax has ceased to have much effect, with gasoline consumption back up over 2008 levels amid the usual volatility of prices. Gasoline is going for around $1.30 a litre, despite the prolonged slump in crude oil prices, and people have basically forgotten about this tax on top of all the other gas taxes.

Perhaps B.C. can brag in Paris about the Pacific Carbon Trust, which limps along after its near-death experience in 2013. The trust continues to divert tax dollars from B.C. government operations to purported carbon-saving activities, including paying coastal First Nations not to log the portions of forests that they demanded be preserved.

(Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca)


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