Greener Than Thou

I listened to CBC Radio’s “The House” this morning, a weekly show about the week in politics.  The show was dominated by the environment, and climate change in particular.

Suddenly it seems our politicians have fallen all over themselves to claim to be doing the most for the climate.  The Conservatives announced a $230 million research budget for clean technologies.  And they announced funding for renewable energy, including wind, that will support the development of an additional 4,000 MW of renewable capacity.  Tomorrow, they will announce that funding for the Energuide home energy audit and retrofit program will be re-instated.

On the program today, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn laid blame for the failure to control greenhouse gas emissions on the previous Liberal government.  And he defended the rollout of the programs announced, all of which are basically the same programs that the Liberals had.  He says they will be more effective in their spending than the previous government.  I half expect to see Rick Mercer back on the adverising circuit.

The Liberal critic, who has been on the job for 24 hours, attacked the programs as not going far enough.  He seemed unaware that this meant he was attacking his leader and his Party, under whose government these programs had been implemented in the first place.

It is nice to see climate emerge as a central issue.  But I am concerned that the policiticians still don’t get it.  Canadians want results, not political posturing.  Most of us are aware that achieving action on climate change will take more than the Federal government.  It will take Provinces, Municipalities, industry, and people.

Nobody has yet talked about the unmentionable yet.  And that is price.  We all know that people respond to price by buying less.  We need to raise the cost of driving, raise the cost of heating, raise the cost of jet fuel, and lower the cost of saving energy.  We probably need to double the price of gasoline and electricity, tax energy inefficient vehicles, and offer lower taxes or rebates on energy efficient cars and materials like insulation, or windows.  All people respond to price.  Only some respond to Rick Mercer.  We need both groups of people.

It’s fascinating to see how the environment and climate has leapt to the fore in the media, and among the politicians.  Is it the Weathermakers, by Tim FlanneryGeorge MonbiotAl Gore’s movie?  Elizabeth May’s election results in the London North byeelection?  Stephan Dion’s platform, and victory?  Has climate change reached that “tipping point” in Canada, where a consensus has emerged that we must do something about it?  It’s probably all of the above and more.

But stop bickering over who is greener.  It’s my planet you are talking about.  It is not a Conservative planet, or a Liberal planet.  Get on with it, and in a much more serious way than announced so far.  We need a government of national unity on this issue.

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