West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy

BC VIEWS: Carbon tax hits a Trump wall

Can the Justin Trudeau government go it alone with a price on carbon emissions, with China, India and now the United States exempt?

B.C.’s delegation to the annual United Nations climate change summit has returned from the desert of Morocco, North Africa.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak skipped this year’s event, sending West Vancouver MLA Jordan Sturdy to collect one of 13 UN “Momentum for Change” awards handed out at COP22, the 22nd international “Conference of the Parties.”

B.C. was recognized for its revenue neutral $30-a-tonne carbon tax, still the only substantial tax on carbon fuel consumption in North America.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also passed this year, visiting Cuba and Argentina instead. His entourage would have brought Canada’s delegation close to the record 335 Canadian officials who jetted to COP21 in Paris last year, but without him it was a relatively modest 225.

A few more numbers: with 20,000 delegates and observers, another 30,000 “civil society” activists from 192 countries, and 1,500 journalists, a temporary city sprang up at the village of Bab Ighli near Marrakech. It was fitted with electric car charging stations, which sat unused after everyone flew in from around the world.

Sturdy is B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Energy Literacy and the Environment. This vast circus of hot air and hot airport tarmac certainly suggests a need for greater energy literacy, among participants especially. But enough of the UN’s hypocrisy.

The big news at Morocco was the surprise election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. With no restrictions on rapidly growing China and India until 2030, and withdrawal of the U.S., the world’s second largest emitter after China, other countries face an impossible burden.

For countries that ratify it, the Paris deal consists of non-binding commitments to reduce their CO2 emissions with a goal to keep global average temperature rise below two degrees.

Speaking in Morocco, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada will stay the course. Trudeau has given provinces a 2018 deadline to impose their own carbon price, starting at $10 a tonne and rising by $10 each year, or Ottawa will do it for them.

By 2021, this would see the rest of Canada catch up to B.C. How’s that working here? After a dip in emissions mostly caused by a world recession, B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising along with its growing economy.

But enough of my skepticism. I asked B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver about all this. A climate scientist and hard-liner on carbon emissions, he says the intent of the Paris agreement for Canada is simple.

“In signing Paris, you’ve committed to de-carbonizing your energy systems,” Weaver said. “You cannot approve any new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

That means no pipelines to B.C.’s northwest coast for liquefied natural gas exports to Asia, and no twinning of the 63-year-old Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

The Trudeau government has approved the Petronas-led Pacific Northwest LNG project, which Weaver insists will never be built because the economics don’t work. And he expects, like many others, that Trudeau is poised to approve the Trans Mountain project, which would face opposition like we’ve never seen before.

If the U.S. actually tears up climate and trade deals, Weaver says other countries should impose tariffs on its export goods to price U.S. emissions.

“I’m not overly concerned about Trump,” he said. “The guy’s a windbag.”

Pardon my personal carbon footprint, but I’m visiting Japan and China at the end of the month with B.C.’s annual forest ministry trade mission. Those two countries are key customers for B.C. LNG and Alberta oil.

I’ll have more on that in a future column.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

The drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Island Health opens COVID-19 testing site at UVic

As with all other sites, an appointment is needed to receive a test

Thousands filled Centennial Square in June for the peace rally for Black lives, sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
Survey seeks input on racism in Greater Victoria

Confidential answers to inform work with immigrants and marginalized people

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Most Read