Thursday, February 26, 2009

Harper playing catch-up with Obama's green plan

Tories in sprint to match Obama on climate change

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is breathing a sigh of relief that U.S. President Barack Obama is serious about climate change, but the pace of change in Washington could leave him struggling to catch his breath.
"Breathing a sigh of relief"? I hardly think so.
From world-leading automobile fuel standards to a clean energy surge and greenhouse gas restrictions, the U.S. is set to accomplish over the next year what Canada has been promising for a decade.
And hasn't delivered under either Liberal or conservative governments.
While the Tories have put pollution regulations on hold until the American playbook becomes clearer, Obama called Tuesday in his address to Congress for an emissions cap-and-trade system that is anticipated to raise $300 billion in new revenue and set the course for economic recovery.
Great idea. Use the carbon credits and sales to underwrite infrastructure development. Harper must be starting to grit his teeth.
"History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas," Obama said, calling climate change, along with health and education, his top priorities for the year ahead.
Public services are back in the spotlight but what will Obama do with the over-the-top, bloated military budget?
The Conservatives have pledged to keep pace with Washington both to do what is politically popular and to stay competitive economically, but signs have emerged that Harper's team has not completely changed its stripes.
How surprising.
Asked this week about threats in the U.S. to ban oil imports from Alberta, Harper insisted Canadian taps would continue to slake the U.S. thirst, regardless of political rhetoric.
Yes, we'll destroy half a province for the sake of some short-term oil sales so that Americans can continue to drive their hummers. That should be very popular.
It was reminiscent of the diatribes he once reserved for opposition parties urging a carbon tax or Kyoto compliance. This time, his target was green U.S. governors like California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has passed legislation to outlaw dirty energy sources in favour of cleaner fuels.
That certainly sounds attack-worthy from Harper's perspective.
But Harper attacks the state's environmental stewardship at his peril; the White House and Congress are littered with Californians leading the climate change fight.
When are we going to unelect this guy?

There are serious consequences for allowing the lag to grow between the United States and Canada's green efforts. How prepared is Canada to play host to green manufacturing? Will the incentives be there to encourage manufacturers to open shop in Canada? Can our community colleges and universities provide the kinds of relevant training and knowledge for a greener economy?

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