Monday, September 22, 2008

More opinions on the Green Shift

A few comments from Globe and Mail columnist Jeffery Simpson:

On the Conservative approach:

... the Conservatives have said nothing in the campaign about greenhouse gas emissions, except that they have a "plan," before launching into an attack on the Liberal Green Shift. They do have a "plan," of sorts. It is based on getting GHGs down from a 2006 baseline by 20 per cent by 2020. I and almost everyone outside the Conservative Party do not think the plan will achieve that objective, but we shall see.

In any event, it consists of (a) a series of small programs under the heading "eco" that are designed to get people to use energy more efficiently and to promote non-fossil fuel use, (b) intensity improvements in the emissions produced by larger emitters, (c) payment into a technology fund if emitters do not meet their reductions, (d) tighter vehicle emission standards, and (e) the completely useless ethanol subsidies for farmers to grow more corn. They have also muted the possibility of a national cap-and-trade system.

On the the consequence of failure to support the Liberal Green Shift:

... the policy will not be picked up politically for a long time. In other words, politicians of every stripe will be unwilling to take the political risks involved. It will therefore be like private delivery of health services paid for publicly, something permitted under the Canada Health Act but deemed political suicide by politicians everywhere.

We will therefore settle for a series of rather ineffectual but feel-good policies such as the Conservatives "eco" ones — energy efficiency etc — and intensity targets from which companies can and will escape by paying into a technology fund which will bring benefits perhaps many years from now.

When and if the Americans establish a cap-and-trade system, as Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have endorsed, we will seek to negotiate joining the U.S. system to make it a North American one.

Similarly, should the Americans adopt tougher vehicle emission standards than those proposed by the Harper government, we will toughen ours.

In other words, the Americans will save us from our own policy incoherence.

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