A United Nations commercial recently ran in theatres

BC VIEWS: Green shift returns, goes global

Premier Christy Clark is joining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a large delegation in Paris for the next UN climate conference

VICTORIA – We will soon learn what Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have in mind for Canada’s renewed effort to influence climate change.

As they prepare to join the 40,000 people jetting to Paris for the next big United Nations summit to deal with human impact on the world’s weather, here is some context for what is to come in December and beyond.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion served as environment minister under former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin. Then, as Liberal leader, Dion’s proposed “green shift” carbon tax was pivotal only in ending his leadership. With a majority government this time, he promises the entire federal cabinet will be involved.

Dion gave a revealing interview to The Globe and Mail last week about his experience in government.

“The old system was to give the file of the environment to the minister of the environment and say, ‘deal with it, be the hero of the environment groups, but don’t bother us because we have jobs to create and an economy to grow’,” Dion said. “That will not work.”

It certainly didn’t work, which is not surprising since Dion is admitting the Liberals considered the environment ministry a mere public relations tool. This was the period when Canada signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, then pretended to care about it as the United States rejected it in a unanimous vote of Congress.

We now understand more about those environmental groups, most funded by U.S. billionaires to target the Canadian oil and gas industry while the U.S. booms. Their tactics were on display in the defeat of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to the U.S., with arguments that even President Barack Obama acknowledged were exaggerated.

Dion’s ill-fated “green shift” wasn’t just about greenhouse gases. He intended to impose a national carbon tax and use the proceeds to eliminate child poverty.

This concept is back, on a global scale. If you’ve been to the movies lately, you may have seen a slick animated commercial sponsored by the UN, featuring animals running the world from the seats of the General Assembly. “We have a plan,” trumpets the elegant llama at the podium, not only to fix climate change but to eliminate poverty as well.

One problem with Kyoto was that it left emerging economies like China and India untouched. And while Canada endures false allegations of subsidizing fossil fuels, actual subsidies are huge in petro-states like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria and Indonesia, where gasoline sells on average at a third of Canadian prices.

China and India’s carbon emissions have about tripled since the Kyoto public relations gesture in 1997. That growth is one reason why Canada’s share of global emissions has now fallen to below two per cent.

Here in B.C., Clark intends to unveil her “Climate 2.0” plan before heading to Paris. We’ll see if it includes another increase in B.C.’s vaunted carbon tax, which now translates to about seven cents on a litre of gasoline.

Even without carbon taxes, about a third of the pump price Canadians pay is federal, provincial and local tax. In Metro Vancouver, it’s closer to 40 per cent. In Venezuela, a big winner in the Keystone XL decision, gas sells for around two cents a litre.

The B.C. government admits its post-carbon tax reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was largely due to the global recession of 2008-09. Now with crude oil at historic low prices, B.C.’s carbon tax is a weak signal lost in the noise of a world-wide glut of oil and gas.

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

Just Posted

Greater Victoria School District adopts new dress code policy

Two years in the making, SD61 moves to more inclusionary guidelines

Esquimalt council green-lights first mass-timber building on Vancouver Island

Mayor appreciates 12-storey structure’s proximity to naval base, graving dock and Seaspan

Legal action against B.C. specualtion tax a last resort

Group of Arizona home owners feel they’ve been swept up in an attack on land speculators

Sooke makes call for regional fire dispatch

Some municipalities decide to take service off-Island

Rock the Rink gives youth once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Winning band will get to play a set at Rock the Shores

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

Amalgamation Yes hosting citizen’s assembly info meeting Wednesday at Vic High

Mayors of Victoria and Saanich will be on hand to give updates to residents

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

UPDATE: Saanich cracks down on owners of unsightly property

Council’s decision came despite public pleas from affected owners

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of April 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Public can weigh in on Cordova Bay Local Area Plan

The District of Saanich is in the process of updating the Cordova… Continue reading

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

Most Read