Statement contributed to Defend Our Climate rally on November 16, 2013

earthClimate change is a serious threat to civilization.

 But the wealth derived from fossil fuels has given our civilization the tools to address climate change, from scientific knowledge and technology to institutions of governance and commerce.

What is lacking is a sufficiently broad coalition of interests, that would provide the political will to enable different regions of Canada to agree upon and cooperate in implementing a solution to the problem of climate change.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party support sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources. Based on the impacts on the environment and communities, he has rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline and supports the Keystone XL pipeline.

Given the unprecedented transport of bitumen and synthetic crude by rail and by existing pipelines, and the increasing production of shale oil in the United States, it should be a priority to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of those fossil fuels.

That’s precisely what the current government has not done. The Conservative government promised regulations but now we have been waiting years for them. One of the reasons for this is that their non-market, command-and-control approach is very likely to be complicated, costly, and ineffective. Industry is probably pushing back very hard and achieving delays. By contrast, many in the oil and gas industry support a market-based system with a price on carbon pollution.

The policy we need, as Justin Trudeau has clearly stated, includes putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions.

He’s not the first Liberal leader to propose that. Stephane Dion did so in 2008 with his Green Shift. It was a bold move. Not all opposition parties supported putting a price on all emissions of carbon pollution. It was also a costly move, and not only for the Liberal Party. Experts at the October 2008 Carbon Pricing conference here in Kingston lamented that the political failure of the Green Shift meant that a carbon tax would not be possible again for a generation.

Indeed it is almost a daily occurrence in the House that the Conservatives will put up and attack the carbon tax straw man, the “tax on everything” they call it, belittling the fact that carbon pricing is the surest way to bring market forces over to the side of climate protection.

And Conservatives have the gall to say they want to, “enshrine the polluter-pay system into law”, as written in their October throne speech?!

Why do the Conservatives do it? Because it works, that’s why. And as long as it works, we won’t be able to build the coalition of willing voters to make use of this powerful economic tool called “pricing carbon pollution.” The Conservatives’ misleading and hypocritical political messaging creates the bottleneck of political will. I ask you assembled here today to ask yourselves what you can do to reach average voters and widen that bottleneck.

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