English­men warned of mid­day sun

The Amherst News - - OP-ED - Jim Vib­ert Jim Vib­ert, a jour­nal­ist and writer for longer than he cares to ad­mit, con­sulted or worked for five Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ments. He now keeps a close and crit­i­cal eye on pro­vin­cial and re­gional pow­ers.

The sweet re­lief of cool sum­mer nights that re­li­ably ar­rived on Canada’s East Coast each Au­gust were mostly post­poned, likely un­til Septem­ber.

Sure, it’s been hot down here, but noth­ing com­pared to the West Coast which is on fire, lit­er­ally.

Sum­mer 2018 will be re­mem­bered for the loss of Aretha and other great ladies, but a foot­note should be added for the un­prece­dented warn­ing to English­men – in Eng­land, mind you – to stay out of the mid­day sun. Mad dogs, as al­ways, were left alone.

Sept. 1 was the dead­line for prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries to get their carbon re­duc­tion home­work in to Ot­tawa. The fed­eral govern­ment threat­ens to im­pose a carbon tax on the lag­gards ef­fec­tive Jan. 1, 2019.

As one dead­line passes, and an­other nears, Canada is a mixed-up hot mess on the mat­ter of carbon pric­ing.

In At­lantic Canada, ev­ery pro­vin­cial govern­ment has as­sured its cit­i­zenry that its carbon plan, like Goldilocks’ third bowl of por­ridge, will be just right.

The made-at-home plans run the gamut from vague in Nova Sco­tia and P.E.I., to mys­te­ri­ous in New­found­land and un­ac­cept­able in New Brunswick, where a pro­vin­cial elec­tion now un­der­way seems likely to re­turn the Lib­eral govern­ment and its not-good-enough-for-Ot­tawa carbon re­duc­tion pro­gram.

Cana­dian Con­ser­va­tives and their pro­vin­cial cousins, most of whom stub­bornly cling to the ‘pro­gres­sive’ qual­i­fier de­spite mount­ing ev­i­dence that it’s anachro­nis­tic, are un­equiv­o­cally op­posed to carbon pric­ing, and have taken to fram­ing Ot­tawa’s plan as a mas­sive tax grab that won’t re­duce carbon emis­sions.

Most econ­o­mists and more en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists dis­agree, but what do they know? Op­pos­ing carbon pric­ing in all its forms is good pol­i­tics. Just ask Doug Ford in On­tario or Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, who have teamed up to chal­lenge the fed­eral right to tax carbon in court.

Al­berta said it was leav­ing the fed­eral plan Fri­day, when Premier Rachel Not­ley said Al­berta’s out un­til it gets the Tran Moun­tain pipe­line mov­ing again.

That leaves, at last count, Bri­tish Co­lum­bia and Que­bec with func­tion­ing carbon pric­ing regimes, and Man­i­toba sched­uled to sign on this month.

In Al­berta, vot­ers will get a chance to turn the heat up next spring when Jason Kenny’s United Con­ser­va­tives will try to pum­mel NDP Premier Rachel Not­ley with a ‘less-tax-more-oil’ elec­tion plat­form.

This week, into this frac­tious fray rode a hardy and slightly quixotic band of al­tru­ists with a man­i­festo they called the 2030 Dec­la­ra­tion. The eclec­tic mix of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, so­cial jus­tice ad­vo­cates and or­ga­nized labour called on the Nova Sco­tia govern­ment to set the pro­vin­cial green­house gas re­duc­tion tar­get at 50 per cent be­low 1990 emis­sion lev­els and achieve the tar­get by 2030.

The prov­ince’s cur­rent ob­jec­tive is to re­duce emis­sions to 46 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els, also by 2030.

The Dec­la­ra­tion as­cribes sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits to a low-carbon econ­omy, it says must also re­dress “the struc­tural in­equities of race, gen­der, in­come, and the on­go­ing im­pacts of col­o­niza­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal racism in our prov­ince.”

More than two dozen or­ga­ni­za­tions col­lab­o­rated on the Dec­la­ra­tion, which came about in part be­cause the pro­vin­cial govern­ment failed to con­sult Nova Sco­tians on its cap-and­trade scheme. The sig­na­to­ries cite re­search that sug­gests their more ag­gres­sive emis­sion re­duc­tions could cre­ate 30,000 jobs in Nova Sco­tia.

In all of this are a cou­ple of cer­tain­ties, that nev­er­the­less re­main in dis­pute.

The first is that cli­mate change has ar­rived and is caus­ing real and grow­ing dam­age to the planet and the life that de­pends on it.

The sec­ond is that here in Canada, the cli­mate change bat­tle lines are be­ing drawn along the par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal di­vides that threaten to make the fight about taxes rather than a sur­viv­able fu­ture.

A year ago, an es­say in New York mag­a­zine ti­tled The Un­in­hab­it­able Earth, by David Wal­lace-Wells, was widely cited and more widely crit­i­cized as alarmist. He ac­knowl­edged he was pre­sent­ing a worst-case sce­nario, but the cen­sure per­sisted.

Last month, Wal­lace-Wells was back in New York mag­a­zine with a piece ti­tled How Did the End of the World Be­come Old News? Its fo­cus is me­dia self-cen­sor­ship that man­i­fests as an aver­sion to link ex­treme weather events to cli­mate change.

It is an aver­sion to get past, as is the way the cli­mate’s be­come hostage to po­lit­i­cal agen­das in Canada.

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