In a disappointing but not unexpected development, Environment Minister Jim Prentice is saying that if the midterm election puts carbon pricing on hold in the United States, Canada will not proceed either. He says: “We’ve been very clear that we will not go it alone on cap-and-trade legislation” and suggests that if Congress delays consideration of carbon pricing in the U.S., Canada will put it “on the back burner for a continued period of time”.
The first response to this is to remind people that, as Richard Feynman famously said: “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled”. That remains true no matter how poorly informed your electorate and elected officials are on critical issues. As long as we keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the planet’s threatening warming trend will continue.
Secondly, it is worth pointing out that the lowest-cost, least disruptive way to achieve the transition to carbon neutrality is to start immediately and work gradually. Delay will ultimately make the process more costly and difficult.
Thirdly, for those who think carbon pricing is a socialist scheme to control the economy, it is actually the most hands-off policy that is likely to work. If its implementation is delayed, the policies that will eventually be necessary to fill the gap will be much more expensive and intrusive.