The standoff between Alberta and British Columbia has put Justin Trudeau in a bind. But he put himself in that bind before the governments of the two provinces decided to go to war over the Kinder-Morgan pipeline. Trudeau argued that pipelines could be built if Canadians paid a carbon tax. Tom Walkom writes:
Notley brought in a carbon tax. Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan. This was supposed to be the model of how measures to reduce greenhouse gases could coexist with economic growth.
The bargain didn’t work. In part, this was because opposition to Kinder Morgan was based on more than climate change. But in part it was because the premise behind the bargain was false.
Seriously battling climate change does carry a cost. True, ignoring climate change carries a greater cost. But it is naïve to think that the transition away from a high-carbon world will be painless.
The rub is that Canadians don't want to pay the real cost of kicking carbon:
The Trudeau government announced a national carbon tax to reduce emissions. But experts say that the tax as planned is far too low to get the job done — that it won’t discourage Canadians from high-emission activities, such as driving gasoline-powered cars.
The federal government tabled its formal carbon tax bill last month. But here too it backtracked, allowing big breaks for large industrial emitters.
The government’s caution is understandable. Fighting climate change carries a political as well as an economic cost.
But if climate change is as dangerous as scientists say, then boldness is required. Compromises, like the one behind the ongoing Kinder Morgan political soap opera, just don’t cut it.
And Mr. Trudeau refuses to tell Canadians what they may not want but need to know.
Image: The Tyee