‘Carbon Kumbaya’ Elusive as Ottawa Tries to Balance Climate Action, Pipelines
Encouraging as it is to track the steps the Canadian government is taking to build an effective carbon reduction plan, it’s hard to see how Ottawa will “get everyone singing Carbon Kumbaya” given the political trade-offs it faces, veteran communicator and analyst James Glave suggests in a post on Medium.
“Climate policy is a messy game of political horse-trading, with no easy path to victory,” Glave writes. “To build buy-in on its ambitious low-carbon transition plan, the federal government needs to hand out enough infrastructure favours to keep all the provinces on the bus, without losing its base out the back door.”
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Which is easier said than done, when a whole sequence of recent positives—a floor price on carbon, an accelerated coal phase-out, a long-term decarbonization plan, a commitment to green public service operations, and a clean fuel standard—can be undone by support for new liquefied natural gas and pipeline projects.
“The Ottawa crew appears sincere that deep, systemic change is really our only option to remain competitive in the global low-carbon economy, and it’s clearly positioning the [pan-Canadian climate plan] as our roadmap. Even industry is onboard,” Glave writes. But if, as expected, the federal cabinet approves Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, “brace yourselves for direct action, civil disobedience, mass arrests…the whole nine yards.”
Glave’s analysis shows just how tough it will be for Ottawa to hold together the divergent interests with a stake in the forthcoming pan-Canadian plan.
Climate and energy groups “want a strong climate plan, but they also really don’t want that pipeline expansion approved, and the additional oil tanker traffic it would bring — at least, that is, until global oil demand craters and economics strand the project,” he writes. “In their minds, the circle just doesn’t square. But without that approval, the whole shebang might well end up dead in the water at next month’s First Ministers Meeting.”