Speaking truth to power (and industry and, yes, consumers)


The Harper government’s own Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy recommends a carbon tax  an “emission price signal”, a cap-and-trade system, or both, in its report released today in Ottawa.

Will the Greens remain the only party in Canada to support a carbon tax – and what it reasonably calls tax shifting?

Probably.

The big three automakers national parties, politically beholden to the worst fears of automakers and/or their employees, choose not to lead Canada toward one of the most meaningful climate change solutions – even while Québec (and, on auto emissions standards, California) already begin to take such actions on their own.

Anyone who did more than space out during the 1970s will remember the oil embargo which plunged the world into gasoline shortages and, therefore, higher prices and drastic conservation measures.

Is there no imagination for adapting measures we took then, maybe even discourage driving?

We could, for those still necessarily married to their cars, combine better gas mileage (such as was attained in the ’70s) with lower carbon emissions we so desperately need nowadays and into the future.

We could make it more tax-advantageous for drivers to take along a passenger or two rather than have them continue to contribute to traffic gridlock – and all the inherent costs, environmental and otherwise – in urban and suburban parts of the country.

We could hope politicians would get their heads out of their short-term electoral asses and invest in longer-term solutions for “our children and grandchildren” they are so quick to invoke on other issues. Imagine if public transit – whether in big cities or small towns – was so reliable and affordable as to make the car almost redundant. As my mother correctly points out people in smaller towns must have cars to get around so long as there are no better options.  This would require levels of infrastructure investments not seen in decades but could employ millions of the same people who see nothing but trouble in the means to an end polls say so many of us would like to see. 

It would also necessarily take time and that’s something we cannot afford to waste.  Meanwhile it is time to significantly adjust our lives to new realities, with all necessary supports to make the burdens equitable. 

Imagine if saving our environment had the same sporting feel to it as saving a few bucks in a sale?
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