Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Waiting On The "Honest Debate"

I don't mean to single out Cam, but this line is a common NDP argument these days:
Dion's plan doesn't have any actual targets and won't reduce emissions.

This attack line is uttered with increasing frequency, and the unsubstantiated logic is echoed by the leadership:
'So does it worry you to see Environmentalists say that it's a good plan?' , to which Mulcair replies, 'Well I haven't heard one single person say it's a good plan.'

Lots of TALK about an "honest debate", but when you keep seeing stuff like "Firm that helps the environment to sue Liberals over plan that doesn’t", you have to wonder. I mean, to actually argue that the Liberal plan does nothing for the environment is almost Rovian in its complete intellectual dishonesty.

I took me about 8 minutes to compile a few quotes, which includes some of the most respected experts in Canada. See, if you are to believe the NDP, all these people have been duped, the Liberal plan does NOTHING. Still waiting for that "honest debate":
Pierre Sadik – Policy Advisor, David Suzuki Foundation
“Well, it seems to be a solid plan. It's relatively straightforward, but it looks like it will cut greenhouse gas emissions quite effectively, and in that regard, it probably represents the kind of federal leadership on climate change that's been missing with this government and quite frankly with the last government as well. So what I find quite attractive about the plan is that it's broad based, it covers 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and perhaps even more importantly, it's going to get us going really quickly, unlike a cap-and-trade system, a tax can be up and running in a matter of months.”


Environmentalist Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, said Mr. Layton's comments are regrettable because a strong climate-change plan would include cap-and-trade measures as well as carbon taxes.

"The carbon tax has a huge advantage over cap-and-trade in that it can be put in place very quickly and deliver results very quickly, whereas cap-and-trade, it's taken Europe decades to get that one figured out," he said. "It's just regrettable that he's focusing on the negative."


"If it's implemented, I can see this plan making a tangible difference because it puts the machinery in place to reduce greenhouse gases," said Aaron Freeman, the policy director for Environmental Defence.


Graham Saul, the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada.

"Putting a price on carbon will encourage conservation. So this is going to move us in the right direction in terms of sending the right signals."


John Bennett – Executive Director,

“It's definitely an important part of what we need to do to combat the climate crisis, and it's great to see that we have a political party willing to put front and centre the climate change problem in its campaign proposals for the next election.“


There was a similar positive response from the environmental group Équiterre.

"It's the type of policy that we would support," said Équiterre executive director Sidney Ribaux. "What they are proposing is close to what a lot of environmentalists are proposing."

Ribaux welcomed in particular Dion's idea of a "green fiscal reform," which would tax polluters but spare low- and middle-class Canadians of steep tax increases.

"That is socially responsible," Ribaux said.


Arthur Sandborn – Quebec Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace

“Mr. Dion has gone one step further, maybe than even (New Democratic Party leader) Jack Layton's cap-and-trade thing.”


Mr. Dion's proposed carbon tax is a good example of the kind of policy Canada needs to fight climate change…” - Marlo Raynolds – Executive Director, Pembina Institute


Doug Porter – Deputy Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets

“Carbon taxes are not a bad way to go in addressing global warming…I think most economists would probably be generally favourable to them. It's about as efficient a way as is out there.”


"This Liberal tax grab called `Green Shift,' if it is fully implemented, Saskatchewan people will get the green shaft," said Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd.

"We're going to see tremendous impact on the province of Saskatchewan and it will be a very, very negative impact."

Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans said the Liberal plan would cripple Alberta, while being less punitive for central Canada where millions of vehicles also create emissions.

"Clearly, Alberta has some very large emitters in the oilsands," she said. "What it says to them is that they will be penalized."


"I've never met one (economist) who disagrees (with a carbon tax). They used to disagree with it because they didn't think that the climate risk was serious, and those days seem to be over," said Jaccard. "All the economists who used to sit on the sidelines, while those of us were out there, explaining what you needed to do for the last two decades, seem to be jumping in very rapidly now."

Won't reduce emissions? You want to debate which policy is better, FINE, you want to keep promoting complete falsehoods, then I think it says more about the messenger than the message. The NDP have jumped the shark.


Steve V said...

Cam's post on my post, about what Steve would have us believe, even though the post wasn't about what Steve believes, it was about the stupid leading environmentalists in Canada who have been duped into believing that Dion's plan will reduce greenhouse gases. Unbelievable.

Blogging Horse said...

Let's give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt: The carbon tax may reduce emissions. But so does doing nothing sometimes (note that emissions have actually gone down under the Conservatives).

But doing nothing is not a plan to meet our global targets. And neither is a carbon tax which translates into "you can pollute all you want, as long as you can pay for it."

The best approach if you are serious about meeting those targets is Jack Layton's cap and trade approach.

Desiree McGraw - the environment expert who penned the Liberals "renewal" report on the environment - told Liberals Canada only needs one carbon pricing plan and it's a cap and trade system that is most likely to meet our targets.

So why has Dion ignored science in favour of politics?

Steve V said...

"So why has Dion ignored science in favour of politics?"

Yes, because a carbon tax is just so darn attractive politically. What an opportunist.

The Jurist said...

Yes, because a carbon tax is just so darn attractive politically. What an opportunist.

Obviously Dion appears to think so, since it certainly wasn't a principle he ever held before this year. (Interesting argument though in implying that because a carbon tax is a tough political sell, the NDP can't fairly question whether it's good policy.)

Anonymous said...


Doing nothing will reduce emissions??? Yes, you have used the key premise many NDPers have told me will keep emissions down: conservation. Of course, we are conserving. Look at the gas prices, people are driving less. Market forces do work. Stephen Harper the neoliberal economist is right all along!!!

How about this? Dion was impressed recently by the Mintz and Olewiler carbon tax, the one that Kenney was dismissing. It promised lower taxes and ordinary Canadians can keep more money in their pockets if they conserve more. Much better economic system than what Desiree proposed two years ago. We can surely have an honest debate on the merits of this principle, not a flame war that can descend into name calling. Thanks.

catherine said...

Cap and trade is more definite on emissions and less certain on costs and carbon tax is more definite on costs and less certain on emissions. Carbon tax can also be implemented sooner. So if you want to start right away and want to make sure that you protect (or improve the situation for) people with low-incomes, then a good strategy is to start with a modest carbon tax which will steadily increase and work toward implementing a cap and trade. This is Dion's plan.

I think Dion came around to seeing that. While cap and trade is good for connecting directly to your targets, it can wreak havoc on low-income families, particularly if the caps are set to ensure there is a big effect quickly. You might argue if you only care about the environment, and not about poverty, this is fine. But I have a difficult time believing the NDP is really saying that, although, I admit, with the BC axe-the-tax, the Ontario freeze-property-taxes, and the federal cap-and-trade without any of the money being used to offset increased costs for those with low incomes, I have started to wonder.

Jaytoo said...

Yes, because a carbon tax is just so darn attractive politically. What an opportunist.

Well, to echo the Jurist, yes. Dion has broken opposition consensus, shelved his own well-founded convictions on carbon pricing, and adopted the less effective approach specifically to try to deflect narratives on his ineffective leadership -- to try, as always, to posit a "two choice election" (Dion or Harper) that wedges out Layton.

And so far, at least among the genetically disappointing punditocracy (if not on Main St.), the strategy seems to be working pretty well. As it is with some ENGOs. Even though all agree that $40/ton won't do the job that urgently needs doing. (Even Dion's own tax forecast numbers presume zero carbon reductions at $40/ton.) Are they offering this "qualified support" to Dion's thing becaue they believe a theoretical future Lib government would continue to increase the carbon tax until it actually achieves emission reductions? That anyone could have this faith in the Libs -- the do-nothing pioneers -- is brow-furrowing weird.

catherine said...

Jurist and Jaytoo, you can read directly what the Canadian environmentalist groups have said about a carbon tax. For example, here is a rebuttal which addresses the BC NDP's claims about a carbon tax, including the claim that it won't do anything. Note that it is endorsed by eight environmental organizations.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Targets, schmargets. Did targets help us meet our Kyoto obligations?
Suppose an old codger like JB devides he'd like to extend his lifespan. Three score years and ten are closin' in and it'd be nice to stay above ground a bit longer.

In order to live longer, I can start in exercisin' every day. I can smoke fewer funny cigarettes. I can eat less junk food. I can eat more fresh veggies. I can eat less meat. I can walk more often.

You get the picture. I can do a lot of things to extend my life and stay healthy. I don't need a target for these things to work.

Obese people can go on a diet and lose weight without a hard target.

Businesses can become more efficient and profitable without setting targets.

Equating a lack of targets with zero progress does not jibe with the facts. It merely echoes a Conservative talking point. Reductions can be made using a carbon tax. Reductions can be made using cap-and-trade.

The Greens and Liberals have incorporated cap-and-trade into their environmental policies, along with a carbon tax. Cap-and-trade is not being ruled out. Quite the contrary. It is an additional feature -- a prong in a two-pronged attack on climate change.

The best approach if you're serious about climate change is to use as many tools as are available. The Europeans and Scandinavians have shown that carbon taxes and cap'n'trade working simultaneously can and does reduce GHG's. Either tactic works alone. The two work together even better than either one by itself. Rocket science?

One of the best honest debates on the topic can be found a NDP blogger Devin Johnston's blog.


Steve V said...

I suppose people can try and make this opportunistic argument, but good luck with the optics of a carbon tax proposal proposed just as fuel prices sky rocket. I've heard "suicidial", "bad timing", "stupid", "tough sell" but only the NDP seems to see a transparent vote grab. Good luck with that, I feel pretty confident it will carry ZERO weight outside of NDP circles. It just sounds ridiculous, given the circumstance and the nature of the proposal.

Budd Campbell said...

catherine, as you well know the "rebuttal" you refered to is not some kind of research paper or fact sheet. Rather, it's a series of media talking points, spin lines put together by the Suzuki Foundation and other "environmental" NGOs that are top-heavy with university based, upper middle-class Liberals. Their economist, Prof Mark Jaccard, is one of Premier Gordon M. Campbell's policy proteges, and his company, M K Jaccard and Assocs, has a $120,000 consulting contract with the BC Govt to do economic research on the carbon tax and related issues.

So it's hardly very surprising that the talking points include material favourable to those policies, the very policies Prof Jaccard has been promoting and touting in his CanWest op-ed pieces, most of which are actually devoted to smearing Carold James rather than explaining climate change poliices.

catherine said...

Budd, are all the environmental organizations listed on that report Liberal? I had thought Suzuki was more of an NDP enthusiast until Layton's attack on carbon taxes. He certainly hasn't been that favourable toward the BC Liberals, except on this one action they took of introducing a carbon tax.

Which environmental groups exist in Canada that you would say are not biased toward the Liberal party?

Anonymous said...

Honest debate huh.

Are you still deleting comments from your blog that are too harsh (true) about the green shift?

Anonymous said...