Feb 7, 2013

Tea Party Tactics


There is no question that climate change is one of the major issues of our time . And we do need to challenge our political leaders to state clearly what plans and strategies they have both to reduce GHG emissions and to prepare for the changes that are already happening and likely to intensify. However, the call being led by CCPA for our provincial party leaders to pledge they will maintain the reduction targets legislated by the Campbell government is not, in my view, the way to go.

We never had a transparent analysis and public policy debate about the specific targets and accompanying measures that Campbell brought in. What we do know is that all under the cover of his GHG plan Campbell forced BC Hydro to buy run-of-river power it did not need with significant adverse environmental as well as economic effects. And he forced schools, hospitals and other public agencies to offset all of their GHG emissions even though in many instances that simply transferred scarce public sector resources to private companies so the private companies could reduce their emissions.

Before we demand our political leaders to commit to specific reduction targets we need to know what that means. Will it force BC Hydro to build Site C and new transmission lines in order to supply clean energy to new LNG plants. Or will it simply mean the winding down of our natural gas industry, with no access to high valued markets. If it does I suspect it wouldn’t have the support of most British Columbians, nor in many ways should it.

There is so much we can and should do in energy conservation, public transportation, the regulation and capping of industrial emissions, adaptation, emergency preparedness and other areas. Let’s get our political leaders to commit to measures and investments that will reduce GHG emissions and/or mitigate the effects of climate change, and demonstrably benefit British Columbians well in excess of the costs they entail. But let’s not force politicians to pledge allegiance to a specific number that may or may not be in the best interests of British Columbians — or more to the point, that may cause politicians to do things that clearly are not in the best interests of British Columbians all under the cover of the pledge.

The Tea Party effectively used simple tax pledges to prevent their politicians from thinking about what they were doing. Demanding pledges to a number may be a very  effective political tactic, but it is not likely to lead to good public policy.