TAUBE – Canada’s contribution to the environment means very little

Prime Minister Trudeau can go blue in the face but…..

MOST CANADIANS are worried about the environment in some way, shape or form.

Opinion research firms have shown this on multiple occasions. For instance, a November 2015 Nanos Research poll of 1,000 Canadians noted that 73 per cent either agree or somewhat agree that “climate change presents a significant threat to our economic future.”

A December 2015 poll by Ipsos of 24 countries, including Canada, revealed that 82 per cent of the 18,854 respondents believe climate change is a “major threat” to our planet.

As well, an Angus Reid survey earlier this month noted that 67 per cent of Canadian respondents believe our country should continue to support the Paris climate accord even if the U.S. ultimately withdraws.

All of Canada’s political parties, left and right, realize the environment has to be a major priority in campaign and government mode. The proposed strategies will obviously be different and the solutions won’t be to everyone’s liking. Regardless, there needs to be something tangible in a campaign brochure, on a party’s website and coming out of the political leader’s mouth.

Here’s the problem with these environmental strategies that few politicians are willing to address on a regular basis:

Trudeau can go blue in the face talking about Canada’s crucial role in protecting the environment, but it is only political rhetoric

The average Canadian firmly believes he or she is doing something beneficial for the country and future generations by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and the overall carbon footprint.

But while they’re feeling all warm and fuzzy for going green, did it ever occur to them that this effort, while certainly noble on the surface, is rather meaningless?

No, I’m not suggesting they should stop doing what they feel is right. And no, I’m not referring to the fact that Canada is a middle power and only has so much political and economic influence.

It’s much simpler than that. If the world’s major polluters aren’t completely onside, then Canada’s overall contribution to this effort (along with other small and large nations) has little to no impact.

Don’t believe me? Consider this intriguing piece of statistical information.

The EDGAR database, created by the European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2015, lists carbon dioxide emissions (via some form of human-based activity) for sovereign states and territories. China ranked first in this study, with 29.51 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. The U.S. was second at 14.34 per cent, followed by the European Union (9.62 per cent), India (6.81 per cent) and Russia (4.88 per cent).

It’s no secret that large polluters like China, India and Russia historically pay lip service at climate change conferences but have virtually no interest in going green. Combined with the fact that environmental concerns in the U.S. (real or imagined) will mostly cease during President Donald Trump’s tenure, that’s more than half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions left unaccounted for.

What about Canada? If you eliminate the database’s massive category of International Shipping, our country sat in 10th spot at 1.54 per cent. That’s higher than other nations but completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can therefore go blue in the face (or red, as the case may be) talking about Canada’s crucial role in protecting the environment for our families and children. It’s only political rhetoric, folks – and it won’t help one small bit.

Does anyone seriously think that Canada, or any other country, has the ability to change the hearts and minds of the world’s biggest polluters? You obviously can’t shame them into adjusting their positions, because they’re more powerful than most nations. They’re also quite content with the way things are; if not, they would have already changed their tune.

The world will always have its share of climate change supporters, climate change skeptics, and those who sit in the middle (like me). But without any consensus about the state of the world’s environment, the political climate won’t change anytime soon.

Columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. 

© 2017 Distributed by Troy Media

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4 comments

  1. To say that China pays only lip service to climate change is perhaps a little extreme. China is building solar and wind installations on a similar scale to how the Allied industrial complex built war machines in 1944. Whether they’re doing so because they’re concerned about climate change or because their citizens must chew the air before they breathe it, is up for debate. But the bottom line is, as we leave the fossil fuel era (if we make it), we’re going to be playing catch-up to them.

    Perhaps the Chinese motivation is actually to be the first to a renewable energy economy… because it isn’t just about being ‘clean’, but also about having an economy where energy costs are affordable, stable and predictable. How better to be an economic giant than by being able to undercut the rest of the world on production costs? Oil (and the energy return on investment (in oil)) is getting more costly, meaning our products must also get more costly. Their energy costs, however, should be stabilizing and perhaps heading down. We’re about to get lapped in this race, but nobody seems able to check the rearview mirror…

  2. Why do the leaders fly around in big jets, gobbling fossils fuels in order to attend conferences about global warming and carbon footprints in an age where electronic audio-visual telecommunications is possible?
    It seems a bit hypocritical.

    • It is rather strange John that you don’t understand.No 1; If they didn’t go then nothing could be accomplished.It’s like buying (or not ) a lottery ticket.If you don’t buy one you can’t win.If they go to the conferences they have a possibility if influencing it’s out come.IE If we can agree to work together to make things better on a much grander scale than the flight to get there. and the final agreed upon out come makes for a better life.It may seem hypocritical to you but the potential for a good outcome makes the flight pollution of very little concern.
      On the whole idea of Canada not having an impact on China’s total pollution or that of the Americans or even India’s, the empirical numbers may seem insignificant but the objective and subjective pressures for betterment on countries with compatable ideals is .valuable.

      • Tony, sometimes showing by example is understanding.
        I understand the numbers. I agree with people such as Rona Ambrose. Canada’s input is very little compared to that of China and the United States.
        Why do you find it rather strange that a different approach might also have an impact?

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