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“If the United States decides to go down that road of not carbon taxing and not capping and trading but rather, simply, detailed regulations across the economy, we would need to harmonize with the United States on a regulatory approach,” he said.

What is left to try, if not a carbon tax and if not cap and trade? “Detailed regulations across the economy” sounds like a lot of red tape, an idea that won’t fly with the Cons or the business community. Not to mention that it would probably be more complex than cap and trade, which is, in turn, more complex than a straightforward carbon tax. A Conservative minister in favour of more regulations is a strange beast indeed.

But lest business be burdened with all the responsibility, he also thinks that each of us should step up and follow his own action plan:

Prentice, who bills himself as a keen recycler who doesn’t own a car, says every Canadian must make an effort to cut their own emissions by unplugging their flat-screen TVs, recycling and turning off the lights.

So, to cut personal emissions, if you have a flat screen TV, stop watching it. If you have light bulbs, turn them off. And, for some baffling reason, recycle, although what that has to do with cutting emissions is beyond me. It isn’t as though milk comes in a carton made out of methane clathrates, and if we don’t recycle them to the icy depths, we’ll each have a carbon footprint the size of Athabasca.

Business doesn’t get to abdicate its responsibility for emissions reductions by passing the buck to individual Canadians, who, besides, can’t get the job done. After all, the One Tonne Challenge was a miserable failure. If Canada wants to make any serious effort in cutting emissions, it needs to change its laws, which means that some day, Prentice and Harper are going to need to have an awkward conversation with their base.

It needn’t be all that awkward. Putting a carbon tax on the table wouldn’t be a bad idea. All the revenue could be kept in the Provinces, it would stimulate emissions reductions by producers, and provide an incentive for consumers to make low carbon purchasing decisions. Contrary to what the Conservatives like to say, according to a report that they once tried to cover up, it wouldn’t mean economic apocalypse; and it will be a lot more effective than unplugging that flat screen TV.

15 Responses to “Jim Prentice has a plan. It isn’t a good one.”

  1. Milan says:

    The Canadian approach:

    “As a strong and independent people, Canadians want a Made In Canada climate change plan. Over the next few years, we will develop and deploy such a plan. In the mean time, here are some targets set for dates well after today’s ministers will be retired.”

    “Given our critical trade links with the United States, Canada cannot go it alone. We must wait for action in the United States. In the mean time, here are some targets set for dates well after today’s ministers will be retired.”

    “As a strong and independent people…”

    Repeat, repeat, repeat.

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