Canadian climate change policies off in every direction
It has been a little over a year since climate change suddenly leapt from being an important issue with occasional press, to one where you can always find at least one good story in your local paper, if not a cover page or a slew of articles scattered throughout the local, business and national sections.
Of course, this has been an issue that has been on the federal governments agenda for almost twenty years. Various provinces have been looking into the impacts of climate change, and various policy tools for reducing the human contributions to this problem for ten or fifteen. Indeed, BC even conducted studies on market mechanisms to curb certain greenhouse gases back in the 1990's. But still Canada continues on a path that is, for the most part, business as usual.
Over the last few years we have seen a number of national plans emerge from minority governments or opposition parties. It would appear that the current federal government has a plan, although the targets it contains are much criticized. The provinces have all begun forming policies, see for example Alberta, BC and Ontario.
Now the question is, what policy and, what standards and market mechanisms will apply in any given province? Do businesses have to comply to two standards in each province, and potentially several if they operate across the country? With the Premier’s conference next week in Vancouver, Premier Campbell is hoping to pull the provinces together and to blow past the federal government on this issue. Alberta however appears to be pulling in the opposite direction and has announced a plan which falls short of the national plan. Indeed, 'real' reductions for 2050 are expected to be above the 1990 levels which the vast majority of the world uses as a bench mark for reductions. So where are we headed? It is still too early to say where the firm target will be, or how we will get there, but it is clear that every level of government is ready to address the issue. There is one thing for sure, and that is the fact that new laws, incentives and penalties will be emerging to push greenhouse gas emissions downward in Canada.