Andrew Scheer’s climate plan will be less efficient and more expensive
By Star Editorial BoardWed., June 19, 2019timer5 min. read
There’ll be money to encourage homeowners to retrofit their houses and increase energy efficiency. Businesses will be eligible for tax breaks to develop eco-friendly technology. Big industrial polluters will be forced to invest in R&D for “emissions-reducing technology.”
But wait, there’s more! There’ll be a Green Patent Credit and a Green Technology and Innovation Fund. Plus a Green Hub for Innovation, not to mention plans to deal with invasive species and wetlands and migratory birds and, oh yes, plastic waste. So many plans!
If such a scheme was presented by a left-leaning political party, you might well expect conservatives to jump all over it as a typical over-complicated effort at social engineering. Another quasi-socialist attempt to micro-manage the economy, they would cry. Simply won’t work, they would opine.
As it turns out, though, all this (and more!) is the product of Canada’s own Conservative Party. Andrew Scheer knew he needed to come out with a plan to address climate change and the environment, and boy did he ever.
As expected, the theme is “Green Technology, not Taxes.” There’s everything but a low-flow, super-efficient kitchen sink in Scheer’s plan, but what there isn’t is anything resembling a carbon tax along the lines of what the federal Liberals have championed as a key element in fighting climate change.
Carbon pricing (or the “carbon tax” as Conservatives call it) is anathema to Canada’s Conservative parties and governments, from Edmonton to Queen’s Park. Instead, as per Scheer, they’re wooing voters with an array of complicated programs that purport to get us to the promised land of lower carbon emissions without the pain of actually paying for it.
At the heart of all these plans, including the one that Scheer unveiled on Wednesday, is what amounts to a lie.
He and other Conservatives acknowledge that climate change is a real, serious problem that we have to tackle now. And to his credit, Scheer is sticking with Canada’s commitment to meeting its climate goals under the Paris Agreement of 2015.
But his message is that someone else (industry, “big polluters,” and the like) should pay for it while regular folks (“middle-class families just trying to pay their bills”) should be let off the hook.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There are indeed costs involved in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and the issue is whether they will be made at least partly transparent through carbon pricing or hidden in higher prices for goods and services passed on by businesses.