As the climate change debate becomes more divisive amongst Canadians, it’s critical that we discuss the subject in terms of its diachronic features. If we analyze the debate over time it becomes clear that only a sliver of disagreement stems from the complexities of the subject. The bulk of the controversy rises from a lack of leadership in Canada and abroad.
The difficulty in addressing climate change is not a question of economics or the environment but is the logical consequence of bad politics, poor policy, and governments which value select corporate interests over young people and our futures. Moving toward sustainable development strategies can be profitable as well as beneficial for the environment and residing communities. So why, then, is Canada’s transition to sustainable development not happening at the rate it should?
Because climate change is wrongly framed as an environmental issue whereas it is, in fact, a social and political one, more related to inter-generational resource mismanagement and an increasingly non-existent participatory democracy. Welcome to the post-democratic era.
This trend was exemplified in a recent article which examined the role policy makers in Alberta played in “setting the stage for today’s [Alberta oil] price crisis.” Even in Alberta’s oil dependent economy government officials, policymakers, and Albertans ignored early warnings that the industry would remain unsustainable if development strategies did not adapt to the realities of a global economy.
The problem is, policymakers who lack imagination often throw money at a ‘dead horse’ and expect it to get up and run. Rather than reducing the production of oil to increase the price per unit, investing in value-adding refineries, and extending the lifespan of this finite resource for future generations, Alberta opted to give their potential profits to U.S. companies with bitumen refining capacities as they continued with their fire sale mentality.
Where is the real-time lost-revenue counter for that?
As the trend of bad politics and poor policy-making continued in Alberta and across Canada, other oil and resource dependent economies were planning for the future. For instance, Texas has developed renewable energy infrastructure which provided over 210 million USD in local government tax revenue and more than 855 million USD in customer savings in 2017. If Texas can implement renewable energy strategies to reduce wholesale energy costs in the state by 5.7 billion USD, why can’t Albertans or Canadians get behind similar innovative policies?
It may have something to do with the complete and utterly shameful lack of leadership, creativity, and policy innovation within our country. This is the real challenge for action against climate change and the movement towards a sustainable development strategy for Canada.
Alberta can go suck a lemon and the federal government can join them until we get real leadership in Ottawa and across Canada.
This is the time for young people to no longer ask what our country can do for us, but rather what we can do for our country: we can stand up and become the leaders our communities need.
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