(November 19, 2010) Opposition MPs and warmist NGOs this week responded with outrage that the Harper government should have dared to use the Senate — an unelected body that the Conservatives claim they want to reform — to kill the Climate Change Accountability Act.
Mr. Harper, however, noted that there was an issue here of somewhat greater importance than procedural nicety or political consistency: the fate of the Canadian economy. He rightly dubbed Bill C-311 a piece of “completely irresponsible legislation” that set suicidal “targets” that would have destroyed hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs.
Ironic, meanwhile, that radical environmentalists who assert that we may have to ditch democracy, and even freedom, in order to save the world are now so keen that democratic procedures should be followed. In fact, the Harper government broke no parliamentary rules, although there was much finger pointing about how Bill C-311 actually came to a vote. Some suggested that the Senate Liberals had shot themselves footwise by accidentally precipitating the fatal head count. But if this was a matter of Stephen Harper outfoxing his opponents, we should all be grateful. At least, those of us do not have an economic death wish should be grateful.
Critics claim that Mr. Harper has, yet again, deviously stalled climate action. You bet he has! But why would one want him to promote action that would have no impact, apart from destroying jobs?
Mr. Harper has always clearly grasped– apparently unlike the majority of his international counterparts–that the greatest threat facing humanity is not climate change, but climate-change policy. Bill C-311 was a perfect example. Opposition parties, in thrall to radical green groups or sheer hypocrisy, were supporting a piece of draconian legislation that would not have had one raindrop’s worth of perceptible effect on the global climate. Nor would it have in any way influenced the way other countries are attempting to writhe away from this issue.
The NDP-sponsored private member’s bill would have required the federal government to set targets to bring industrial greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Without so-far unimagined developments in energy technology, this would have required an unprecedented curbing of industrial activity and jobs.
Critics claim that Canada now faces the embarrassment of turning up at the next climate summit, at Cancun in just over a week’s time, “empty-handed.” But the Kyoto process is deader than Monty Python’s Norwegian blue parrot. It fell off its perch at Copenhagen.
Anti-Harper carpers niggle that three years ago Mr. Harper declared that climate change was the “greatest problem facing humanity.” Good grief, could that have been mere political expediency, based on the necessity of pacifying a needlessly alarmed electorate? Did he not really mean it? You’ll be telling us next that he really favoured that BHP takeover of Potash!
Before he was forced to talk the minority talk, Mr. Harper described climate change as a “socialist plot.” Intriguingly, this fact is now openly acknowledged. This week, German IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer said in an interview: “[O]ne must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy….One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy any more.”
The Conservatives have thus handled this issue brilliantly (although we should hardly be happy that they have committed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to climate boondoggles and to funding alarmism, in particular in promising to fork money over to the congenitally incompetent UN). They have maintained that any emissions legislation has to dovetail with that of the U.S. The fact that it would be politically stupid and economically destructive for Canada to “go it alone” was confirmed this week by none other than the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson. He acknowledged in a speech at McGill University that: “The practical reality is that in Canada you can’t have a system of carbon pricing that is different from the one in the United States…. The negative effects on trade, on business and on environmental stewardship, in one country or the other, would be very significant.”
Fortunately, the U.S. cap-and-tax thrust was moribund even before the mid-term elections.
The bottom line is that the Conservatives have worked consistently to minimize the damage to the Canadian economy from the all-but-collapsed climate-change juggernaut, and have succeeded admirably. Public concern has — despite flagrantly rigged opinion polls — subsided in the wake both of more immediate economic issues and the very valid doubts over “the science” raised by Climategate and Glaciergate, and by the review of the IPCC undertaken by the InterAcademy Council — the representative body of national science academies. That review acknowledged that the whole IPCC process needs to be reformed.
No matter what the state of the science, however, anybody who supports unilateral action such as Bill C-311 could only be an economic masochist or a political numbskull. To reiterate: the prospect of international agreement to slash emissions has collapsed; any measures to hobble Canada unilaterally would thus be both economically suicidal and climatologically pointless.
Mr. Harper is to be congratulated. The measure of his success will be the volume of “dinosaur” or “fossil” awards given to Canada at Cancun. Canadian representatives should accept them with pride.
Peter Foster, Financial Post, November 19, 2010