No real substance to climate change doc

I In Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Lord declares he has a plan for recovering the infinity stone. When asked how much of a plan he has, he says 12 per cent. Rocket scoffs at the notion while Drax says it is not much of a plan. Only Groot comes to his defense pointing out it is more than 11 per cent.

While listening to Andrew Scheer unfurl the Conservatives' "Real Plan to Protect Our Environment," I couldn't help but think 12 per cent of a plan.

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The Conservatives have three guiding principles - 1. Green technology. Not taxes; 2. A cleaner and greener natural environment; and 3. Taking the climate change fight global. Good sound bites but what do they mean?

The plan is a 60-page document with 11,000 words - which is supposed to impress people and make voters think it is a very serious document. (For reference, these columns are 800 words and don't fill up a quarter of a page.) It's taken Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives two years to come up with their document which contains many pictures and not a lot of text.

It also doesn't contain a great deal of substance.

It starts strong stating "Canada's Conservatives recognize that climate change is real and evidence from around the world clearly shows that there is a global warming trend," but it immediately follows this statement by saying "While natural events can account for some temperature change, research and data show that human activities are a major contributing factor. It is now considered extremely likely that more than half of the increase in global surface temperature between 1951 and 2010 has been caused by man-made greenhouse gas contributions."

Climate change is real but it might be only partially our fault? Really? This is the message of the party? I realize the plan is intended for the Conservative base but I would hope by now our political parties would stop with the weasel words even if they are drawn from an IPCC report. We need to remove the politics which soft-sells the conclusions found by the working group.

The Conservatives plan continues: "when it comes to emissions, Canada is a small contributor to the global problem. By most measures, we account for about 1.6 per cent of the total global emissions."

This is accompanied by a graph showing China way up at around 10,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the United States at around 5,500 Mt, and Canada holding steady at about 600 Mt.

Interestingly enough, the graph shows both the United States and European Union have had major decreases in carbon dioxide released over the past 10 years while Canada's emissions have essentially remained constant.

What the graph and commentary don't mention is comparing us to China, the United States, the European Union or India is a mug's game. We have a population dwarfed by any of these other entities. At 37 million, we have about one-fortieth the population of China. If we were emitting at their per capita rate, our total output would be only 250 Mt.

Put another way, as a nation, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, we are punching well above our weight.

The argument we shouldn't do anything because shutting down "Canada's whole economy for one year - it would take China only 21 days to replace our emissions" is just morally wrong. We don't need to shut down our economy. We just need to get to the same per capita levels as the rest of the world.

We lose the moral high ground if we eat cake while telling the rest of the world they need to make do with their gruel.

Much of the Conservative document is spent railing against inaction and ineptitude on the part of the Liberals. Of course, the Liberals have only had this file for a little under four years. The previous government, under Stephen Harper, baulked at doing anything serious about climate change. Yes, they were part of the Paris Accord but, at best, their efforts were a token nod at the issue.

There is little substantive information in the plan and this is not really the fault of the Conservatives. This past weekend, CBC's Cross-Country Checkup devoted its time to discussing both the government's declaration of climate change as an emergency and committing to the construction of the TMX pipeline.

One of the guests was David Suzuki and when he was asked what we could really do, he couldn't provide an answer. His only suggestion was to point out that in the 1960s the United States committed to sending humans to the Moon and back, which they did. Look at all the benefits which came from that, he said.

Going to the moon was a lot easier than trying to solve a global crisis no one really has a plan to tackle, Conservative or otherwise.

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