Brad Wall’s “plan is laughable“. That’s because it isn’t a plan to address climate change, it’s a plan to sweep it under the rug for another decade. Too bad we’re short of time and marching toward oblivion.
Clearly, Wall now thinks we’ve fallen a long way as a province since the early days of his tenure in office — in terms of not only our fiscal situation, but also our generosity as a community.
This week, as part of his laughable excuse for a climate change plan, Wall started demanding that Canada’s federal government strip desperately needed resources away from some of the poorest people on the planet in order to preserve Saskatchewan’s standing as the world’s most reckless air polluter.
If Wall were to get his way, Canada would stand out as the most callous and irresponsible developed country on the planet.
Brad Wall is ignoring reality, for the benefit of greed.
When it comes to climate change, Saskatchewan’s plan is akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.
Premier Brad Wall literally wants to bury our troubles. He wants to dig up fossil fuels and then bury them in another form. Carbon capture and storage might work, for a while. But it will not work near as effectively as just leaving the carbon in the ground in the first place.
A price on carbon will help us slow the rate at which we dig up our future and might enable us the time and opportunity to find a better way to build a sustainable and just society.
The great political theorist John Dryzek labels people like Wall as “Prometheans.” In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He symbolizes progress. Prometheans such as Wall believe that the story of human history is the story of progress.
They argue that nature has no limits, because once a resource runs out, clever people will find a new resource. Or, in the context of CO2 emissions, if humans hit the upper limit of emissions, someone will figure out a way to solve the problem without actually having to recognize limits. This is because those such as Wall recognize no limits to growth.
This is a rather hubristic position for a premier who oversees a province in which the economy is shrinking and natural resources — from grasslands to migratory birds to fresh water — are disappearing.
Most scientists agree that human generated CO2 emissions are changing the Earth’s climate. Economists, policy-makers, and politicians across the globe agree that a price on carbon is an effective way to reduce human-caused CO2 emissions. This is not a case of either-or. We do not require either technology or the economy. We need both.
We need every tool in the tool box. Saskatchewan needs to continue investing in technology that might help to mitigate climate change. And we all need to invest in adaptation strategies. But we also need to start paying for the environmental externalities associated with CO2 emitting behaviours. A price on carbon is one tool.
This is not an “economy versus the environment” issue, as Wall suggests. The economy is the environment. If Saskatchewan cannot grow lentils anymore because of unpredictable rain patterns, its economy cannot be strong. If there is no water left for hydraulic fracturing because of drought, the economy cannot be strong.
We do not choose between the economy and the environment because they are intertwined.
Wall warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other provinces that Saskatchewan “will fight for our interest, in the court of public opinion and, if need be, in the courts of the land.” Wall might win the battle on principle, but Saskatchewan will lose the war on climate change and environmental degradation.
The costs will be greater than we can bear. Now is not the time to bicker over technology or the economy. It is too late. We need to invest in technology and we need to invest in the environment. A national price on carbon will cost real dollars, but it is a small fee for standing on the right side of history.
Andrea Olive is an assistant professor of political science and geography at the University of Toronto. She’s from Regina and has a summer home in Saskatchewan.