Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thomas Mulcair and Global Warming: Real discussion of real problems at last?

This week has shown the level to which political discussion in Canada has fallen. The current government, under Stephen Harper, has once more shown that it is not concerned with discussing any matter in a cooperative way.

Instead, the new Tories have resorted to their simplistic chest-thumping ways of communication, and have used slogans – including falsehoods – instead of intelligent debate. 

It is something Canadians have come to expect from this government, and is one of the reasons why there is so much interest in having Justin Trudeau run for leader of the Liberals: he represents a return to grownups talking about real matters, not gorillas growling in the dusk during mating season.

Mulcair and Intelligent Discussion

Thomas Mulcair and the NDP have launched a discussion of the proper steps that Canada should take to combat the effects of global warming.
Robert Redford: Use the courts!

By so doing, Mulcair has faced Canadians with a reality: What exactly should Canada do to combat climate change?

Should Canada take substantial steps to fight greenhouse gases even if its biggest trading partner (the USA) is dragging its feet, and if China and India do not legally commit to take similar steps? Or should we let NIMBY be our main guide?

Part of the problem is that so many of us know far too little about global warming and its horrific consequences – Eric Reguly’s article in today’s Globe & Mail does a good job of spelling out some of the results. We see the issue as background noise.

The Global Warming War:

Reguly refers to the ticking timebomb of arctic permafrost – if this ever happens on a large scale (there are signs of it starting) our leaders won’t have any more wriggle room to avoid addressing the problems of our fossil fuel belchings.

From the beginnings of the Kyoto Accord and its emissions trading scheme (with Graciela Chichilinsky one of its boosters), the EU has set the pace.

The Global Warming War (GWW) is beginning, with the science-conscious European states lining up against China, India, the USA and others (check their steps to reduce emissions from planes).

We will need to drive the fight down to ordinary citizens (in imaginative ways) if we wish to seriously fight greenhouse gases.

Will we ever go so far as having a new class of ecocide crimes taking their place alongside other international crimes recently agreed upon? Methinks it will take a while, but it will definitely come. Robert Redford is on record as pushing the use of the courts to fight global warming.

Mulcair’s Problem: The Tough Sell of Climate Change:
Mulcair rolling up sleeves for the GWW

Mulcair knows that it is a tough sell to persuade people of the reality of global warming, but is determined to keep pushing the NDP’s environmental policies despite the Harper new Tories’ campaign to demonize the cap and trade policy as a tax grab. Mulcair’s NDP could do worse than take a few lessons from the cheese doctor, archetypemeister Clotaire Rapaille, on how to do this.

Mulcair will need to deal with the methods used by climate change deniers and to focus on the three musts needed to persuade Canadian voters that the problem is real. So far, the Deniers in the US and in Canada seem to be winning the battle, but that can be overcome.

He will need to combat misstatements such as this one:

In cap-and-trade, the government sets a gradually declining limit on the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions industry can put into the atmosphere each year. It then auctions off permits, or credits, each one of which entitles the bearer to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide, to major industrial emitters. These emitters then pass along the cost of buying these credits to consumers, in the form of higher prices. They also buy and sell the permits to each other, similar to stocks.

That comment clearly misses the main point of the cap and trade schemes such as the EU one under the Kyoto Accord. That scheme is designed to put economic pressure on big polluters to reduce their pollution or to pay to pollute; those polluters who do reduce their pollution gain an economic good which they can then sell to those who don’t, by trading to them their right to pollute. 

A properly designed cap and trade system is designed to exert pressure on all polluters to reduce pollution – in other words, to create a flight to the bottom, but this time to the bottom of polluting.

Start the good fight, Thomas.

And let’s see how the next leader of the Liberal Party leads our party in this battle.

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