Thursday, October 19, 2006

Canada's Clean Air Act, or Harper's Hot Air Act?

In the past I've been very critical of Harper. But to be realistic, it's not as if the Conservative government has a magic wand to simply pass laws that will bring Canada's runaway pollution problem into check overnight. In that, I'm a realist. As much as conservative sniping annoys me, the Liberal partising sniping about Harper's impotence environmentally is just as irritating.
Canada is a country balancing the windfall from a massive oil boom and the repurcussions of the environmental damage the boom creates. Drastically cutting pollution, at least in the short term, is a pipe dream.

We've made promises to big businesses, oil companies, and America to continue processing the oil sands for decades to come. Besides that, the oil boom money is damn nice.
Unfortunately, Harper can't do a whole lot to fix the great dilemma of pollution and global warming in the short term. That said, I am extremely disappointed in the policies and goals he's outlined. They seem flat and push the burden onto future leaders to pick up the slack.

Europe has the right idea, and here's a hint on how to impress the Green sreaming electorate while pandering to their dependence on the oil boom economy. The electorate wants something they can see, some environmental plan to distract them from the oil companies dessimating the environment. A ray of hope - not some mimicing of Bush's fancy names for Legislation.
Mr Harper should understand that most Canadians don't like George Bush. Judging by the polls, the majority of Americans are starting to lean this way too. Try to distance yourself from Bushm. For example, the Clean Air Act you outlined sounds scarily like the Clear Skies Initiative outline by GWB.
Furthermore, your plan is completely lacking environmental responsibility for the current government.

Here are the Clean Air Act ideas, taken from Glove and Mail website.

Highlights of the Conservatives' proposed Clean Air Act

Canadian Press

• By 2011, develop new regulations for vehicle fuel consumption.

• By 2025, set national targets for smog and ozone levels.

• By 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 45 and 65 per cent from 2003 levels.

• No mention of the Kyoto Protocol and the emissions targets the government of Canada comitted to in 2002.

• Harmonize vehicle emissions standards with those of the United States over the next 12 months.

• Harmonize regulations with those of the U.S. for volatile organic compound emissions in consumer and commercial products over the next year.

• Over the next three years, discuss and set “intensity based” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than total emissions targets, for major emitters.

• Negotiate with provinces to create harmonized system for mandatory reporting of air emissions, reduction of regulatory overlap.

• Create environmental damages fund from non-compliance fines to be applied directly to cleanup.

There is nothing really enforcable and simply the same tired promises of keeping an eye on polluters in the future.

Consider this. Rather than say, "We want to cut our greenhouse gasses by 50% by 2050." Try showing us some numbers we can imagine in the voterships lifetime, this year even. For example. "Canada wants to increase its renewable energy resources by 2% per year, and derive 30% of it's energy needs from renewable resources by 2015, including solar power, wind power and increased hydro projects."
Perhaps raise that goal to 40% by 2020.

Why not offer future tax breaks or lower road taxes on low emissions or hybrid cars?
Perhaps, due to market forces, it's not the best econonomic idea to push through right away, but a five or ten year plan for gradual e-friendly tax breaks could be extremely popular with the electorate. Not to mention tempting Toyota and Honda as campaign contributors - Gasp, campaign contributors with a non-environmentally threatening agenda! It would also push the big American car companies, who have trailed Japan in the Green revolution, to get a move on.

No comments: