Pope Francis has set out to transform the issue of climate change into a moral imperative, not just for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but for everyone. He is unambiguous about the role of human activity in producing the greenhouse gasses that are the decisive contributor to global warming and the connection between these climactic changes and global justice challenges facing humanity and the planetary environment.
Right across Canada and around the world, jurisdictions are moving away from coal-fired electricity generation in favour of cleaner options, and this critical debate has finally come to the mainstream in Alberta.
The Alberta NDP has reignited this much-needed discussion with its platform commitment in the current election to “phase out coal-fired electricity generation to reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions and expand cleaner, greener sources, including wind and solar”.
This year Pope Francis is expected to deliver an encyclical on ecology, one concerning the environment broadly and perhaps climate change more particularly.
Believers and non-believers alike, united by a common concern for the future of the planet, have high hopes that someone who chose to name himself after that great lover of creation, Francis of Assisi, will say something truly transformational, for as a Canadian Council of Churches document lamentably observes, transformative change has not “found traction within political processes.”
Forbidden to text while driving, you can waste your time checking the fluctuating price of gas at every gas station you see and how at each station it differs from yesterday. All you will learn is that the price shifts up and down over space and time – the operation of that seductive beast called the market – with corresponding effects on your pocketbook or credit card balance.
To address today’s issues of climate change, environmental degradation, and inequality, we must construct more local and resilient economies, and take back ownership of our resources.
This is the key message in a ground breaking new book, The Resilience Imperative, by Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty. The authors provide examples of cooperative and inclusive ownership models for community control of energy, housing, food production, manufacturing, finance, and social services from many countries. People all over the world are trying to recover local control over their resources and productive assets, reacting to the growing ownership of these assets by international capital, and the trade deals that protect these investments.
Earlier this week, Andrew Jackson, senior policy advisor to the Broadbent Institute, wrote a thoughtful and constructively critical analysis of the Ecofiscal Commission’s first report. My first response is: thank you, Andrew. Jackson’s piece epitomizes the much-needed evolution of the debate around climate policy in Canada. It moves us squarely to the discussion we should be having: not if we need better policies, but how they should be designed.
Tuesday’s U.S.-China climate deal has been hailed widely as an “historic deal” that dramatically changes the dynamics of international climate politics as countries search for a new global agreement by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Climate Convention in Paris in 2015.
Clearly it is a welcome development in a number of senses: it involves a very public commitment from the world’s largest emitters that will be hard to renege on; it puts pressure on other countries that have not already made pledges (many already have) to reduce emissions, or to up the ambition of their pledges in some cases; and it can act to create further trust amongst countries that the major emitters are negotiating in good faith building momentum towards Paris.
If it is to transition to a green economy, Canada must end the continued subsidization of fossil fuels. These subsidies come at the expense of the public purse and favour the development of carbon-intensive energy options over cleaner, low-carbon options such as wind, solar and biomass more deserving of public funds.
Editor's note: In advance of the National Forum on Clean Energy and Industry taking place on October 3rd in Ottawa, the Broadbent Institute will be featuring a series of blog posts exploring policy options for transitioning to a green economy.
Nobody likes to pay energy bills and they seem to rise every year. Heating and cooling our homes is also one of Canada’s largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It might not be the sexiest policy, but retrofitting our homes with better insulation, windows and efficient heating and air conditioning solves both of these problems.