OTTAWA – The new climate proposal from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is a mixed blessing. It is great to finally hear a plan--unfortunately, it's not new at all. The federal government set targets and sat down with the provinces in 1998. It resulted in six years of meetings and little else. It too tried to both reduce emissions and increase oil exports. It failed.
“Climate change is the greatest threat to our national security. It requires a national effort to deal with it,” said John Bennett, National Program Director. “This timid plan to talk about it with the provinces and do what’s affordable while exporting oil won’t cut it. Only transformative policy can deal with the climate crisis.”
After the 1997 Kyoto climate conference the federal government established an elaborate and prolonged consultation with provinces, industry and other stakeholders. It did result in a comprehensive plan to meet Canada’s legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol but it took 7 years. The plan was objected to by Alberta and industry. Then it was discarded by the federal government in 2006.
Canada later withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol (the only time in history this country has turned its back on a legally binding international treaty). The result has been growing opposition to Canada’s energy super power ambitions in Canada, the US and Europe, delays to the Keystone XL pipeline decision and a loss of social license in Canada for pipeline projects. Mr. Trudeau suggests having a climate change plan will assist Canada in overcoming the opposition its dirty oil.
“It’s true not having a climate change plan has hurt Canada’s ability to export oil. To suggest, however, that a climate change plan that allows continued expansion of the oil industry would be any different is just wrong, said Mr. Bennett.
"The science is clear: we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels, not accelerate it," said Mr. Bennett. "Frankly, we were hoping for something more youthful and robust.”