Friday, July 28, 2017

On The Environment, Trudeau Gets An F

Justin Trudeau takes a good picture. His latest is on the cover of Rolling Stone. But, while image helps get you elected, Michael Harris writes, it's what you do that the history books record. And, on the environment, Trudeau talks a good game but does very little:

For those who think that Canada became science-friendly with the election of Justin Trudeau, one of the country’s greatest scientists in the country — David Schindler — has a surprise. According to Schindler, facts still don’t matter in federal politics, even in Harper’s absence. Pro-development governments, including Trudeau’s, continue to ignore science.

“Our environmental regulations are still those modified by the Harper government. The civil service too is unchanged: Top jobs are still occupied by career policy wonks with little understanding of science. And while more scientists may now speak about their research, they remain forbidden from public discussion of policy options.”

Schindler asserts that Canada’s environmental assessment process for big projects, which Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr insist is fact-based, remains “archaic”. More than that, Schindler says that federal environmental regulations are a “laughingstock”, that “science libraries”, gutted by Harper, appear to be gone for good, and too much science is still in the hands of bureacrats, whose unschooled grip is tightening.

Schindler reserved his harshest judgement for Canada’s mid-century, long-term greenhouse gas emission strategy, the “having your cake and eating it too” Trudeau manifesto on the environment.

“The federal plan was issued in 2016 with a triumphant press release that we could indeed meet our 2050 international commitments to reduce carbon — while further developing the oil sands and building several oil pipelines and LNG plants. Upon scrutiny, the various scenarios proposed all require generating over 100,000 MW of hydroelectric power … Generating over 100,000 MW of power would require 100 dams roughly the size of Site C in BC and Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland, both of which have been tied up by protests, litigation and spiralling construction costs. Build three huge dams a year for 30 years in remote areas? It will not happen.”

As France and Britain are putting an end to gasoline and diesel automobiles, Trudeau continues to boost the oil sands. Keeping oil rich Alberta on side is not easy. But it's about transitioning from an old economy to a new one. And Justin's still firmly rooted in the 20th century.

He's ahead of the Harperites -- who are stuck in the 19th century. But, even though he likes to remind us that this is a new century -- when it comes to the environment -- he's still living in the past.

Image:  My Journey

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