In its fervour to achieve net zero emissions the federal government is increasingly isolated internationally, while its influence on other countries has vanished as, through incompetence and worse, it has tarnished Canada’s brand as a country to emulate.
As Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” The European Union had a plan to reach net zero by 2050 but its member states have now been hit by a severe energy crisis and are backing off in response to popular discontent.
In a “brave new approach to politics” designed to stave off electoral defeat next year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reversed course and approved development of a giant offshore oil and gas field. And he delayed signing off on green policies that would have imposed “unacceptable costs” — calculated to be five times their economic benefits — borne disproportionately by blue-collar workers.
In support of Sunak’s belated awakening to economic and political reality, the Telegraph queried, “If the consequences are prohibitively expensive and involve saddling millions of households with additional expenditure for unknowable benefits in an unfair way, why would anyone make the transition?” Why, indeed, Mr. Trudeau, when according to a Leger poll only 15 per cent of Canadians think net zero is realistic? The question has added poignancy since the green policies of both countries can have only a negligible influence on global emissions and none on temperatures.
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According to the EU’s top energy official, with renewables unable to make up for the disappearance of Russian natural gas, Europe will need U.S. fossil fuels for several more decades. No mention of Canada, the world’s sixth largest gas producer, since we literally cannot deliver either to Europe or to the vast Asian market. So much for Justin Trudeau’s inane comment that there is no business case for exporting Canadian natural gas. Strong global demand for oil will now be supplied by less environmentally conscious petro-states, rather than from our proven reserves, the fourth largest in the world.
Germany’s finance minister — Germany’s — recently criticized the EU for its “enormously dangerous” green plans that threaten social peace. He is busy trying to reverse the de-industrializing effect of the high green energy prices that now have people calling his country “the sick man of Europe.” In France, President Emmanuel Macron has given no date for banning fossil fuels. India’s Narendra Modi warns Western countries not to impose “restrictive” climate-change policies on the developing world, while for its part, China has six times more coal plants under construction than the rest of the world combined. Its emissions have tripled since 1990.
In the U.S., moving entirely to EVs could cut union employment by half in electorally crucial Rust Belt states. If Republicans score a 2024 trifecta of presidency, Senate and House, that likely would lead to dramatic reversals in green policies, including increased drilling for oil and gas. Then Canada would be virtually alone in its fixation on climate apocalypse.
The progressive conceit that Canada can serve as a moral leader on climate change was always egotistical nonsense. The world is bemused by our self-harm and irritated by our hectoring, especially since we have missed our Paris Accord commitments and every other target we ever set. Canadians are very tolerant and fair-minded, with much to be proud of. But our prime minister has talked down our brand by decrying our supposedly “genocidal” past and systemically racist present.
Our reputation was sullied when a member of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division was honoured in the House Commons. That shameful blunder evoked a dark period in Canadian history when a “none is too many” immigration policy that turned away Jews trying to escape the Holocaust was changed to “many are welcome” when applied to Nazi collaborators. It also handed a propaganda gift to Russia and undercut Ukraine in its quest for military and diplomatic support to help it defend its sovereignty.
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Because the rush to net zero is a) unattainable, b) colossally expensive and c) without appreciable environmental benefit, it should be a political loser. But true believers, rent-seekers, socialist ideologues, mainstream media devotees and compromised academics inundate the public with hyperbolic fear-mongering, while alternative voices, including reputable scientists who don’t self-censor, are banned or ignored. Without determined political leadership to fundamentally change direction, we will fall even further behind a world that is increasingly indifferent to Canada’s climate jeremiads.
It is past time to stop our indulgent moralizing about climate change. We need to reverse policies that are causing severe economic and social damage and start acting rationally in our national self-interest.
Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources and then minister of finance in the Harper government.