Dr. John Hollins, past Chair CACOR, on 9 June 2019, sends a public letter to some friendly political partisans:
Dear Fred and Martha,
I draw to your attention a column in the Ottawa Citizen on June 8 by Patrick MacDougall. (Pasted in below).
Mr. MacDougall’s advice, coming from a political writer, is refreshingly clear-headed and straightforward. I don’t remember reading such an insightful text in the media on this subject, a part of my professional domain since 1987.
(Mr. MacDougall misuses one word in the vocabulary as it is traditionally used in this area: he uses the word “mitigate” when he means adapt to consequences of global warming. Mitigate in this area has been used only to mean reduction of emissions, not of consequences — that’s routinely referred to as “adaptation”. However, his use of this word opens an option in political rhetoric to talk about mitigation of both emissions and inevitable consequences. I expect that Joe and Martha would understand better, although perhaps you could find a 10¢-word to replace the $10-word.)
Mr. MacDougal is right; the Conservative Party could distinguish itself from its rivals by showing that it really understands the issues and has well-founded plans to take effective action. It could also speak truth to voters: Canada missed its Kyoto target by 25%; it appears to have abandoned an interim target for 2020. There is no feasible practical and political route to get to the Paris target for 2030 (-30% of 2005) without a better-informed approach and collaboration across the country. The advocates of a carbon tax on consumer motor fuels do not seem to know that the price elasticity is vanishingly small in the short to medium term; on its own it will not work. (The Bank of Canada has known for a long time .)
Mr. MacDougall is also right that Canada that could do much better in meeting two fundamental moral obligations:
- For the sake of all inhabitants of the planet, do its full share in reducing emissions in a timely manner;
- For younger and future generations of Canadians, begin to prepare seriously, starting now, to adapt to inevitable consequences of global warming.
Neither of these obligations are currently being met. Finally, Mr. MacDougall is right that citizens who observed a government seriously addressing the second obligation (preparing for inevitable change) would be more likely themselves to act on the first obligation (reducing personal emissions).
Mr. MacDougall has shown your party a constructive way forward.
SCHEER SHOULD JUST SKIP DEBATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Ottawa Citizen, 2019 June 8, D4, Andrew MacDougall
Andrew MacDougall is a London-based communications consultant and ex-director of communications to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Focusing on mitigation is the best way for Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives to flip the environment to his advantage and allows the Conservatives to paint themselves as the climate realists, writes Andrew MacDougall.
Lost in all of the shouting over the Liberal carbon tax is a simple fact: The tax — even when fully implemented — does not get Canada to its emissions targets (i.e. Stephen Harper’s targets) under the Paris Accord.
Perhaps that’s why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna prefer instead to tuck their tax into the broader toolbox of climate action.
Even if, however, the Liberal government’s entire Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change — all 78 pages of it — was put in place, it still wouldn’t get Canada to where the planet needs it to be on climate change.
Not even close.
These aren’t, by the way, arguments against doing what the Liberals are proposing; merely an argument that it’s not enough, according to the Liberals’ own rhetoric.
Even if the world somehow pulled a boatload of climate magic out of its backside and hit the Paris target of 1.5 C warming, it’s not clear it would stop the world from suffering some of the more serious side effects of climate change.
All of which presents Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives with an opportunity.
Instead of getting trapped in a useless debate over how to label climate change — it is an “emergency,” “crisis,” or “catastrophe” — or debating what fanciful targets to throw at the wall for 30 years down the road, Scheer should lead on the inevitability that we’re not going to get to our destination unscathed and start mitigation planning in a serious way.
Because carbon tax or no carbon tax, the Ottawa River will flood again. The West Island of Montreal is under a more sustained threat from the same rising tide. Looking westward, the forests of British Columbia and Northern Alberta will again go up in flames. And it won’t be a carbon tax or condolences that save the day — it will be practical and concrete investments into mitigation efforts in these communities.
Focusing on mitigation is the best way for Scheer to flip the environment to his advantage. For one, it’s something concrete that voters can touch.
Tell the people of the Ottawa River Valley they’re getting a carbon tax that might maybe one day possibly produce an uptick in their fortunes is one thing; showing them a giant ditch being dug to allow the water to bypass their communities is another. Side bonus: People will need to be employed to engineer, build, and maintain said ditch.
Although the Liberals would surely criticize the focus on mitigation as defeatist and insufficient, it would be hard to do so credibly, seeing as “building climate resilience” (i.e. ditch-digging) is on page 31 of their own climate framework.
More to the point, focusing on the practical allows the Conservatives to paint themselves as the climate realists. Even under the rosiest of scenarios, the world will still need to invest massively in infrastructure to protect modern communities, many of which are on waterways and coastlines. You can’t move cities the size of Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver away from the water.
Mitigation is also an approach with serious Conservative pedigree.
Tired of seeing his hometown of Winnipeg struggle with the annual flooding of the Red River — and in particular the devastating flood of 1950 — Manitoba Progressive Conservative premier Duff Roblin led the charge to build the Red River Floodway (completed in 1968 and expanded by Stephen Harper in 2014). Built on time and under budget, “Duff’s Ditch” is estimated to have prevented more than $40 billion worth of flood damage over the years.
Because a core brand attribute of Conservatives is getting stuff done, Scheer could credibly propose a series of Roblin-like investments across Canada. It could be a Canada’s Economic Action Plan of sorts for his first term. Leave the preening, virtue-signalling, and massive delegations to UN gabfests to Trudeau, Scheer could say, I will pledge the same targets while protecting your community and family.
Surely it’s better to make these mitigation investments up front, when the pressure is off, and in coordination with the provinces, than it is to make federal restitution payments after the fact when people are suffering and the provinces are out-of-pocket. It’s time to get on the front foot.
Most importantly, it would ground the climate debate in deeds, not words.
Pace McKenna, turning the rhetoric up to eleven — à la Spinal Tap — doesn’t mean the people will believe it. It means they’re more likely to tune it out. If Canada and other nations are to succeed on climate, they need to find common ground, not polarize the debate further.
On that front, seeing a government serious about mitigating the effects of climate change might be the one thing that convinces the sceptics that this isn’t a test, that things might indeed be changing for the worse.
 The World Oil Market
Gerald Stuber, Research Department, Bank of Canada, summer 2001
High price volatility has been a long-standing characteristic of oil markets…. This volatility stems largely from the fact that the short-term responsiveness of both the demand for and the supply of oil and oil-based products to large price changes is low, so that relatively modest changes in the balance between demand and supply can result in large price movements (and vice versa).