Copenhagen brain squeeze: Day 1

Hamilton%2C%20Tyler45X64.jpgPosted by Tyler Hamilton
Canada’s Environment Minister Jim Prentice keeps repeating the line that the federal government will not put jobs, the economy, investments, and the standard of living of Canadians at risk during negotiations in Copenhagen. It’s an obvious thing to say, regardless of what country you’re representing, but implicit in Prentice’s comments is the belief that reducing greenhouse gas emissions necessarily requires a sacrifice to jobs, a sacrifice to the economy, and a lower standard of living. Now, nobody is saying there won’t be some pain as we shift our provincial economies, but let’s get one thing straight: lowering greenhouse gas emissions, even in Alberta, can create jobs, can attract investment, can boost the economy. When Prentice talks, he’s specifically talking about the jobs of the fossil-fuel industry, the impact of this industry on Canada’s economy, and the standard of living of the people who profit from this industry. What he fails to mention is the jobs that can be created once investment is shifted to other clean-energy sectors, and the economic value this can bring. It’s not an all or nothing proposition, yet the Harper government continues to imply that it is, and in doing so is misleading the Canadian public by not accurately describing the opportunities that do exist, if we only choose to pursue them. This language is divisive, as it’s pitting Alberta against the rest of the country.
Interesting, Prentice — again, the environment minister — doesn’t mention the need to protect the environment or public health. But you will hear him talking about the federal government’s commitment to have 90 per cent of electricity in Canada emission-free by 2020. This is an interesting target, since the federal government has absolutely no control over electricity policy, which is provincial jurisdiction. But it sounds nice, right? Even if it does equate to taking credit for efforts in province’s such as Ontario and British Columbia.

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