Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Le Pari de Paris (Paris Gamble) and Liberal Green-Washing

The article Le Pari de Paris by François Cardinal in the November 15, 2015 edition of La Presse is at the very best misleading, based on half truths and wishful thinking, and exemplifies a weak understanding of environmental and related economic challenges.

Global Momentum: No Excuse for the Liberals not Having a Plan in their Platform and/or Post Election Ideas/Proposals for Discussion
To begin, there is an incredible momentum among Canada's competitors to the effect that they are light years ahead of Canada on the migration to a green economy.  Therefore there is no excuse for the Liberals not having an outline of proposals to achieve significant greenhouse gas targets by way of applying foreign models to Canadian contexts.

For the first time since the post World War II period, thanks to the climate policies of China, the world's largest energy consumer, Europe, the US and other countries, demand for fossil fuels is flattening, as the world moves away from a resource-based economy.   

Concurrently, nations around the globe are intensifying their actions on climate change and the costs of clean technologies are declining rapidly.

Together these trends are jeopardizing the prospects for increasing global oil supplies, particularly supplies derived from expensive to extract reserves, such as those of the tar sands.  This implies the demise of the business model of the oil industry that is based on 1) strong growth and 2) high oil prices to reflect favourable supply-demand economics.

In keeping with these trends,  China's emissions and coal consumption declined in 2014.  More specifically, these results pertain to China being the world's largest investor in clean technologies, having installed 34 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity in 2014 and invested $89.5B in clean energy investments in that year.  In effect, China's new clean electrical generation capacity added in 2014 represents 70% of current total Hydro-Quebec electrical production capacity, but China installed this order of magnitude of clean energy new capacity in a single year!

And then there is the acceleration of the momentum towards zero and low emission vehicles.  The Government of China has a target of 30% of vehicle purchases to be electric beginning 2016 and the production of 2M eco-vehicles/per year by 2020. 

California's zero and low emission vehicles initiatives are equally aggressive. 

Recognizing the writing is on the wall, UBS, the world's largest private bank, and the Chief Economist of BP, Spencer Dale, have both concluded that the fossil fuel era is over, with UBS saying that the green economy will be the emerging new economic paradigm by 2020 and BP's chief economist concluding that the majority of world's oil reserves are unlikely to ever be exploited. 

The former Governor of the Bank of Canada, and now the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has more or less said the same thing referring to the majority of oil reserves as unburnable assets -- more commonly known as "stranded assets."

The reality is that China, Europe and the US have already demonstrated that a migration for a green economy offers a better economic paradigm that contributes more to job creation and growth than the traditional resource-based economy.  Indeed the green sectors offer 6 to 8 times more jobs per government investment unit than the traditional resource-based economy.

And the job numbers are staggering making the green sectors the highest job creation and growth sectors of our times, and this will only increase as countries around the globe become more aggressive on climate change.  There are now 3.5M jobs in the green sectors in Europe and there are 1.6M people working in China's solar energy sector and another 356000 in China's windpower sector.  Have a look at the clean energy job figures on page 63 of the report of The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.

Trudeau and Global Green Economy Development
That Trudeau's model for economic stimulus is infrastructure funding is troubling, a post World War II economic development model entailing spending money on increasing dependencies on personal vehicles as well as public transit.

If Trudeau was in tune with the emerging new economy, the lion's share of stimulus spending would go towards tomorrow's jobs or green economics.

Trudeau and Improving Canada's Environmental Image to Export More Tar Sands Oil
As for Justin Trudeau's current mindset on climate, he met with Obama in Manila to instrumentialize a positive pitch on the environment to convince Obama to import Canada's energy, tar sands supplies in particular.  This green-washing is nothing new for Trudeau because he had criticized Harper for not boasting of Canada's environmental record to get the Obama administration on side for Keystone.  In this vein, Trudeau had also congratulated the former Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, for promoting Canada's environmental record as a means to get Washington to support Keystone.

"Coincidentally," Peter Kent, the former Conservative Minister of the Environment also considered his main job to be that of enhancing Canada's environmental image in order to export more oil.

Add to the cocktail that Justin Trudeau 1) has stated that opposition to Keystone and Energy East is not based on science and 2) told David Suzuki regarding David Suzuki's remarks that 80% of tar sand reserves must remain in the ground, that the Suzuki remarks in question are"sanctimonious crap."

All of the above comments concerning recent Trudeau's statements on instrumentalizing the environment to win the support of the Obama administration on pipelines are consistent with Dion's recent contributions to Liberal green-washing.  Stéphane Dion, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in reaction to Obama's rejection of Keystone, said we are going to need oil anyway.

The Liberal Failure Legacy on Climate Change: Due to a Lack of Commitment not an Absence of Ideas on How to Achieve Kyoto Protocol Objectives
Turning to your assumption to the effect that the Liberals can be excused for not knowing how to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG) when they were previously in power, it must be pointed out that the economic revolution towards the migration to a green economy began while the Liberals were in power.  This contrasts with the indications of your article of November 15, 2015 implying that the Liberal government can be excused for not knowing how to significantly achieve Kyoto GHG reduction targets.
By 2005, the EU had already achieved a 15% reduction in GHGs towards its 2020 target of the 20% reduction in GHG's by 2020.  Well on their way for achieving the 2020 EU GHG reduction targets, the European Wind Energy Association  predicts that 25 of the 28 member states would meet or exceed their 2020 targets of a 20% reduction of GHG be 2020. In other words, contrary to the Liberal nonsense, Canada was not suffering from a lack of good information on what needs to be done to achieve its Kyoto targets.

The European Union has since set a 2030 target of the 40% reduction in GHGs.

More important as a former Government of Canada employee 1) who's experience includes sustainable development policies, legislation, programs and projects and 2) having lived through several Liberal climate change action plans, I can attest that Stéphane Dion never had a serious strategy to achieve the Kyoto target. 

All of the former Liberal government's climate change action plans were pretty much the same, generous funding for clean tech innovation, but nothing else.  Eddy Goldenberg, Jean Chrétien's right hand manduring the previous Liberal reign, admitted much the same to the effect that the Liberals never had a plan to achieve Kyoto. 

Indeed, among the most amazing elements of the Dion plans for previous Liberal governments, was his attempt to convince the UN that, since trees absorb carbon, Canada should earn carbon credits toward Canada's Kyoto objectives for the existence of Canada's trees -- achieving the Kyoto target for doing nothing.  For this green-washing plan, Dion referred to Canada's trees as "carbon sinks." Fortunately, the UN rejected the Dion cheating plan.

As his last act before the previous Liberal government was defeated over the sponsorship scandal, Dion created a billion dollar Climate Fund to purchase emission reductions from the largest emitters.  This was designed as a pay the biggest polluters policy, rather than a polluter payer policy.

So it is no wonder that during the former Liberal reign emissions went up to 18.5% above 1990 levels by 2012. Indeed, Liberals were so lax that they allowed for a voluntary policy for vehicle manufacturers on automobile fuel consumption compliance.  This voluntary program allowed for the Canadian fuel consumption data, that were supplied by vehicle manufacturers without third party verification, to be way better than the fuel consumption for the same vehicles in the US.  This skewed the Canadian numbers on manufacturer-specific corporate average fuel consumption for vehicles sold in a given year.

The aforementioned lax approach on automobile fuel consumption was consistent with my Government of Canada employee experience associated with my sustainable development initiatives while the Liberals were in power, up until the arrival of the Harper administration. Put bluntly,  100% of the time, not 99%, when public interests and private interests were at odds, the Liberals always chose private interests.  Accordingly, it came as no surprise when it was revealed that Justin Trudeau co-campaign chair up until the last days of the election campaign, was Daniel Gagner, a TransCanada pipelines lobbyist.

Unfortunately, Louis-Gilles Francouer, formerly the environmental journalist of Le Devoir and now a member of BAPE,  was the only journalist during the era of the former Liberal government that wrote an article deflating the Stéphane Dion green balloon.  My own article on this and found above, pertaining to my perspective as a former Government of Canada employee during that era, goes into greater depth than the Francouer article.

Bringing us back to the present, our competitors are so much more advanced than Canada on the green economy that Canada, if it so chooses, can have the advantage of looking at global models to-date, for inspiration for a fast-forward plan to catch up. 

Thus it is pathetic that the Liberals went into the 2015 election indicating, and Christina McKenna subsequent to the election claimed, that the Liberals have no plan but would talk to the provinces and quickly come up with one by February 2016.

I say pathetic because acquiring inspiration from examples around the globe need not be daunting. On my own, I have produced a 45 page document on guidelines for a Canadian migration to a green economy that 1) constitutes a very comprehensive and synergistic action plan based on green economy models from around the globe which have been transformed into applications for a Canadian context, while incorporating analyses on how best to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of foreign models; and 2) integrates my Government of Canada experience, up until my retirement in June 2012, a) regarding sustainable development policies, legislation, programs, projects and other related initiatives and b) pertaining to the workings of the federal government and federal-provincial relations; what has been tried; what works; what doesn't; what needs to be changed to achieve effectiveness; and what gaps need to be filled.

To wrap up, comparisons of the Liberals' past record and current/recent statements indicate a continuation of green-washing rather than structured effective strategies.  As such, the Liberal lack of substance on climate policies is not, as you suggested in your article, comforting. 

That Trudeau's new improved theme to the effect that a better environmental record will make it easier to market tar sands exports is not comforting. 

That the Trudeau government is not up to speed that global demand for oil is flattening because of the successful advances of global green economy strategies among our competitors is not comforting

That Trudeau infrastructure/economic stimulus offers little to prepare Canada for the new economy, green economics, is not comforting.

Accordingly the jovial Emmanuelle Latraverse report on the Téléjournal of November 23, 2015 on the federal-provincial meeting to the effect that a better Canadian environmental record will help Canada in marketing its oil, represents just one more journalist falling into the trap of Liberal green-washing and Trudeaumania.

Indeed, there isn't any good excuse for promising to develop a climate plan in crisis mode based on fast-forward consultations with the provinces, a non-leadership plan that appears to be more like a continuation of the Liberal green-washing legacy.

Consequently your insinuation that the Liberals will pull an amazing rabbit out-of-a-hat for February 2016 is in itself amazing and primarily based on packaging/appearances rather than on content.  The Liberals are deficient on tackling climate change.

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