mercredi 28 novembre 2007

Marc Garneau and the Liberals on climate change

Some of you have seen me leave Marc Garneau’s event quite angry and stormy. Well, I’m disappointed. I was giving the Liberal Party its chance, since I haven’t read their last platform yet. History repeated itself for me again (last time was Thomas Mulcair at McGill); I was expecting a lot more.

When they discourse, politicians are great. But as soon as question period comes, they reveal themselves. For Mulcair, it was an answer to a question asked in private. For Marc Garneau, it’s the fact he didn’t completely answer my question (but that can be excused, since it was involving lots of stuff), and that his party’s solution to climate change is weak.

Now let me give you a bit of background. Marc Garneau was lecturing on Research, Innovation and Canada’s Competitiveness at McGill this afternoon, invited by Liberal McGill, Liberal Concordia and YLCQ (which must be the Young Liberals Chapter of Quebec). My question, aside from its casual intro, switch of language and nervousness that might have lead to less clarity, was approximately “Since the environmental problems you spoke about are linked to climate change (and thank you for not raising that one up since people are getting tired to hear about it), and you seem to emphasize public research and development, and Kyoto is not only a policy nor political will problem, but also a technology one, which actions will the Liberal Party take if it is back in power to takle climate change, will that also include ‘help’ for private firms undertaking R&D?” Aside from the usual turning-around-the-subject, he answered “Canada has to gain its credibility back, then bring developed countries in. Stephane Dion has written a Green Budget including incentive-based measure to high greenhouse gas emitters, which will also include penalties. The increase use of renewable energy is also included”.

This is not enough, this is too weak an approach. I participated to a talk show Maisonneuve en direct (Radio-Canada, Première Chaîne, 11:30AM every day) this Monday about Stephen Harper at the Commonwealth meeting. Harper said something alone the line of “We’re not complying with Kyoto unless all Commonwealth gets in”. Maisonneuve was asking listeners “Does that mean we’re out of Kyoto?”. Once he introduced me as an environment student, I added I was from McGill, taking a class called Economics of Climate Change and a Green Party member, so my answer will reflect that. I replied “Harper is right to say Kyoto isn’t worth much, because it’s taking the 1990 baseline whereas the UK shut down its coal mines, Germany reunited and the USSR fell during that decade, which drove down Europe’s emission, and because developing countries are not in whereas China is becoming the strongest emitter, and that comes from my class. Where he’s wrong is in his inaction. A method endorsed by the Green Party that the Conservatives would like could be a carbon tax (with an equivalent reduction of revenue taxes), to raise the price of fossil fuel.”

In fact, another thing Garneau omitted in his speech was the fact that economic growth is linked to greenhouse gas emissions increases. He did mention that based on surveys, Canadians were ready to make lifestyle changes, that BC was the greenest walk-the-talk province, but that elsewhere, people were not taking action because they fear the free-rider effect. Will the Liberal Party enforce a lifestyle change? Certainly not, they are too compliant, want to please too much people at the same time, and this is making them ineffective.

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