Eco-Policy Must Balance Two Realities

(October 18, 2016)

The flurry of activity around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of a federal carbon tax last Monday was followed the next day by the release of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. The FSDS received much less attention, because it was not greeted with the provincial petulance about federal decisions that tends to generate headlines.

To be fair, there isn’t a lot of drama surrounding this document. Intended as an open working framework covering the next three years (to 2019), it identifies 13 strategic areas for Canada to focus on in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

I was glad to see the ongoing intention to revise and extend it — much wiser than attempting a strategy that tried to paper over its inevitable flaws — and there are some interesting tidbits buried in among the some of the unfortunate efforts to encourage sustainable consumption (like suggestions to unplug appliances and not let taps run).

For example, for Manitoba, there is a promise to continue funding the Experimental Lakes Area; another to contribute toward the reduction of phosphorus in Lake Winnipeg; money to fix the Lake St. Martin watershed problem; money for municipalities to fund infrastructure improvements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and so on. There was also the welcome intention to sign on again, as soon as possible, with the global initiative to combat desertification that Canada shamefully abandoned a couple of years ago.

But this strategy, however initial its steps, just does not go far enough. Nor does the $10-a-tonne federal carbon tax do much to save the planet, as critics have complained.

So why bother? Who cares about carbon?

 

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