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.”
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.
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