Net-Zero Emissions is the stated goal of a bill tabled this week in Ottawa. Find out why opposition parties are calling it an empty shell.
We’ve written in these pages before about Canada’s Trudeau government and their hypocritical stance on the climate crisis. This government campaigns on the environment and governs on fostering fossil fuels.
Back in June 2019, the government passed a resolution declaring a national climate emergency. Then, less than a day later, that same government approved the Kinder Morgan Pipeline to carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific Ocean.
This week, the Trudeau Government has tabled a bill calling for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. That’s a great goal, and it’s something Canada committed to under the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Grandkids Can Live in a World With Cleaner Air”
Environment Minster Johathan Wilkinson proudly declared that “This achievement is necessary to ensure our kids and grandkids can live in a world with cleaner air and water and to ensure our businesses maintain and gain a competitive edge by producing the low-carbon products the world wants to buy, well into the future.”
The rhetoric is impressive, yet not one of the opposition parties in Canada’s parliament supports this bill. It fails to live up to Trudeau’s campaign promises from the last election. It has no enforcement measures to make its targets credible.
We need to realize that Canada has never met any of the emissions targets set in the past. We failed to reach the 2012 Kyoto target touted by our government in 1997 as a historic achievement.
Falling Short of our 2020 Goal — By a Lot
We’re also going to fall short of our 2020 Paris Agreement goal–by a lot. We’ll be overshooting the emissions limit we set by about 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
During the campaign, the Trudeau government pledged to set “legally binding, five-year milestones” on its way to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet, the new bill doesn’t establish a milestone for 2025, meaning the prime minister won’t have to deal with any climate performance measures during his term of office.
Reporters asked him about this, and his only reply was that “We will be meeting and exceeding our 2030 targets.” Nobody else seems to think so.
Canada is Nowhere Close to Making That Happen
The goal for 2030 has been to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels. Climate experts agree that Canada is nowhere close to making that happen. Our emissions are going up, not down.
The media also asked the prime minister about the lack of enforcement in the legislation. His answer was, ““Ultimately the accountability for government’s actions or inactions, is from Canadians themselves.” If that’s our approach, it leaves me wondering why we need a new law at all.
The main concern with Trudeau kicking the can down the road yet again on net-zero emissions is that scientists agree that the next ten years are vital. The way this legislation is structured, there’ll be no accountability during the 2020s, right when it’s needed most to get climate action on track.
Government Investing in Public Relations Platitudes
The current pandemic and the public demand to invest in building back better would have been the perfect opportunity to invest in the green economy of the 21st century. Instead, the Liberal government is investing in public relations platitudes.
The bill contains broad timelines and dates for goal completion, which might lead the casual observer to think there’s a plan in place. There isn’t. The proposed law is nothing but a dog and pony show.
Here’s what a genuine plan to bring the climate crisis under control would look like. It’s what the Green Party of Canada proposes to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Incidentally, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul called Trudeau’s plan “an empty shell.”
Green Party Would Set a Goal of 60% by 2030
First, the Green Party would set a goal of reducing emissions by 60% by 2030, doubling the Liberals’ 30%. They’ve outlined a series of specific measures to drive Canada toward that objective.
The Green Party would start with a detailed carbon budget. It would set out the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions permitted.
The budget would base limits on holding global temperature rise below 1.5˚ C. They’d also impose a tariff on imported goods from countries who aren’t taking climate action.
A Green Party government would fund renewable energy, clean technology research and energy retrofits of existing buildings. Carbon prices would rise every year as an added incentive to cut emissions.
100% Renewable Energy Flowing Across the Country
Finally, the Greens would build a national electricity corridor. This infrastructure project would ensure that 100% renewable energy could flow across the country regardless of provincial and territorial borders.
That’s an example of what a serious plan to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 would look like. It seems as though Justin Trudeau has led such a privileged life that he doesn’t realize that “wishing doesn’t make it so.”
Putting a goal on paper or announcing it at a press conference doesn’t make it real. If climate action was easy, the climate crisis would already be over.
Platitudes and Half-Measures Aren’t Going to Cut It
Finding new ways to live that don’t devastate our climate will take ingenuity on the scale of a moon shot. Platitudes and half-measures aren’t going to cut it, no matter how dramatically they’re presented.
They say that humanity progresses by changing one mind at a time. That’s especially true when it comes to those minds who’ve been entrusted with leadership positions.
Our prime minister needs to genuinely realize that climate change is real, caused by humans and a crisis. He can’t just keep saying that all the time.
He has to do something about it. We don’t have time to merely pay lip service any longer.
We always have more to learn if we dare to know.
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