I have been reading a lot about how something must be done about climate change. We all hear politicians talk about their plans to address it. Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate advocate from Sweden has become an overnight sensation for standing up for the planet. This all makes for good headlines, but what is the real story?
What I keep thinking about is what politicians and / or the climate activists are not talking about. Or maybe it is the way the media is covering the issue. But what seems to be missing is a real conversation that starts with balancing different points of view and finding common ground.
For example, I think we can all agree that the destruction of our planet would not be a good thing? Everybody should be able to get on board with that.
Maybe move from there to agreeing that shipping our used plastic bags to Malaysia and burning them in giant piles that emit toxic smoke and give people cancer is not a good thing. Ok we should all be able to get on board with that one too, right?
This is how we progress a conversation about making real change. Not with whether a carbon tax is the right strategy, politically or otherwise. It is proven that taxing consumption works, and is arguably the fairest method of taxation.
No, this starts with us as individual humans making good choices about which foods we eat and how much, how often we fly in an airplane, whether we take the car or ride a bike, or whether we take our own re-usable bags to the store or buy plastic ones that might end up in that heap in Malaysia.
All the rhetoric from our politically motivated leaders is not going to achieve the change the world needs.
This is about personal responsibility.
And it starts with getting the facts straight. Canada is in the top 5 of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gas per capita. That is a fact, but we have a relatively small population and we have an abundance of oil, so it makes sense. Having said that, we produce only 2% of the world’s total CO2 pollution. To put that in perspective, China emits about 20 times the amount of CO2 gas as Canada does.
Canada is a great country full of responsible people who care about their neighbours. We have tough taxes on carbon. We have tough standards on pollution in our energy and industrial sector. We have an unmatched record on pipeline safety, and a time proven history of delivering petroleum products cleanly, safely, and reliably. Equally as important, we have an economy that depends on selling our resource products profitably.
Yes, we need to pursue reduction, re-use, and recycle strategies nationally. Yes, we need to develop alternative clean sources of energy. But we also need to be realistic about how fast change can happen, and balance these strategies against the reality that the world needs oil, and is going to need it for a long time to come.
I don’t believe we have to be ashamed that Canada is an oil-producing nation. We should be proud of our safety and environmental record and our politicians should stand up on stage and make sure the world has the real facts. We should promote, market, and sell our petroleum products to the world’s energy markets, including the market within our own country. And we should push back hard on other countries that have lower safety and environmental standards than we do.
That’s what I call getting real about climate change!