Good Sunday Morning – December 1

Rabbits! Happy December. (Sorry about the “rabbits.” Old habit for starting the first day of the month from my British dad.)

The climate-related news this week focused on a new report on carbon pricing. The EcoFiscal Commission made the case that raising the carbon tax to $210/ton by 2030 is the best way to meet the current climate target.

Unfortunately, this approach is nearly irrelevant to a climate emergency. This report focuses solely on policy instruments to address the gap between the current plan and meeting the existing target – 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The level of ambition of the target bears a direct relationship to the usefulness of their analysis. It might be that the EcoFiscal Commission is correct and that a carbon price alone is the best, “least cost and politically viable” (the report’s stated goals) approach to meet the current target. But it is irrelevant to what must be done.

Although the Commission does good work on carbon pricing, it is disturbing that their work did not begin with the IPCC Report (Oct 8, 2018) that holding to 1.5 degrees global average temperature increase is essential. Holding to 1.5 degrees is the Paris target. The current target for Canada is the Harper target and inconsistent with the Paris goal. To achieve Paris and 1.5 degrees, Canada is required to do twice as much by 2030 – 60% reductions. Carbon pricing alone cannot get us there.

We need to be more ambitious on multiple fronts, of which carbon pricing is just one. Canada must ramp up our target for COP25. Reinforcing this urgency, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report this week tracking expected global average temperature increase if all the countries on earth achieve their current targets. The terrifying news is that, without deep cuts and fast, we are on track to a world 3.2 degree C hotter – as a global average- than at the time of the Industrial Revolution. UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said, “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions.” UNEP estimates to keep the world livable we need to cut emissions by 7.6% per year, starting now.

The recent report on how Nova Scotia could make the transition to 90% renewable energy by 2030 is much more relevant to the climate plan we need. See Ecology Action Centre report here:

Like our plan, it incorporates many simultaneous policy choices. Note that the Nova Scotia government has adopted a target of 53% reductions by 2030. The NS government calculated that this target is a translation from the IPCC October 2018 report red line that globally we need reductions of 45% CO2 reductions below 2010 levels by 2030. I know many in Nova Scotia, especially Greens, are highly critical of the vagueness around the provincial law, but there is no doubting that their target is the most aggressive in Canada.

We stick by our comprehensive plan ‘Mission Possible ‘; within which carbon pricing is important – but not the be all and end all. It is in a much larger context of more important actions – investing in the national electricity grid, cancelling any new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines, ending fossil fuel subsidies, etc.

In our plan, we have no new mega-dams, no new nuclear. We invest heavily in energy efficiency and conservation.

We need a transformative plan for our economy to go off fossil fuels. By 2030, our plan dramatically reduces carbon dioxide – by 60%. In that context, carbon taxes shrink in significance.

The slavish fixation on carbon pricing is a distraction.

Tomorrow the COP25 negotiations in Madrid will begin, running until December 13. As I mentioned last week, Canadian Greens will be there. Amita Kuttner, William Gagnon, Claire Kelly, Tim Thompson and Addison Fach will be there for both weeks, while John Kidder, Alexa Lewis and I arrive on Sunday. New Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson arrives on Tuesday of the second week. By the way, Minister Wilkinson and I had an excellent initial conversation a few days ago.

On Thursday Parliament opens with election of the Speaker and the Speech from the Throne, Friday is a day of observance of the École Polytechnique tragedy and a re-commitment to end violence against women.

By the time you wake up next Sunday Morning, I will be in Madrid, but I will write you a breezy note before take-off with reflections on the Speech from the Throne to pop up in your in-box.
Have a great week!

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