Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine

Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine                        January — February 2022

               Canadian Politics and Public Policy

            Climate Change
                 Clean Energy
$7.95                                             Volume 10 – Issue 1
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
Reimagining a sustainable future
Tackling climate change presents a big challenge and an even greater opportunity for Canada, one that will
impact all of our lives, and those of generations to come. Our nation’s plan to drastically reduce greenhouse
gas emissions down to ‘net-zero’ by 2050 requires the largest change to our economy in our lifetime, and one
that RBC is fully committed to supporting.

To reimagine our economy in ways that balance the needs of all regions and citizens, Canada’s path to net-zero
requires significant innovation and capital to succeed. How we get there is just as important as the destination
itself. Traditional energy sources are important to support our daily lives as we change what energy we consume
and how it is produced, and contain the terrible effects climate change is causing to our planet and communities.
Canadian jobs and prosperity need to be preserved and enhanced while we build a more sustainable economy.
Getting this transition right will not be easy, but we must move forward together with a sense of urgency and
thoughtful action.

RBC is committed to playing our part, and it goes well beyond advancing net-zero leadership in our own operations,
where we will reduce emissions by 70% by 2025. We will engage through our people and capabilities in every sector
and community to enable the transition in three key ways:

Help clients as they transition to net-zero
We have committed $500 billion in sustainable financing by 2025 and are well on our way to meeting this
commitment. Through a wide range of products, services and advice, we will continue to help businesses
and individuals across all sectors and regions establish and accelerate their climate plans, achieve their
goals and adapt to net-zero.

Hold ourselves accountable
We will monitor, measure and report on our clients’ efforts towards net-zero emissions. In early 2022, we will
publicly share data on emissions produced by our clients that are associated with a large proportion of the
loans and financial services we provide, sometimes referred to as “financed emissions”. At the same time,
we will set interim goals in support of achieving net-zero by 2050. This includes working with our clients in emitting
sectors, whose innovation and reduction strategies are critical to reaching Canada’s emissions targets.

Actively partner, inform and inspire Canada’s sustainable future
We will help promote climate literacy and offer ideas that support a successful transition. Our latest report,
“Canada’s Road to Net-Zero”, presents six pathways for changing how we live, travel, grow and power our lives –
in ways that don’t leave jobs, communities and businesses behind. And we will continue to fund, partner with,
listen to, and bring together communities. This includes Indigenous leadership, technology experts, and public
and private sectors to discover and innovate new climate solutions where it matters most.

Looking forward, Canada’s drive to net-zero will strengthen existing industries and create new sustainable ones.
Ownership in sustainable projects as well as broader actions to achieve net-zero will create meaningful pathways
for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And we will provide our children with a healthier world in which to
thrive and prosper. Our economy will be cleaner, our nation stronger and our planet healthier. Working together,
we can do this.

This is Canada’s most ambitious path, and we will be there every step of the way.

Visit to learn more
about our climate commitments and actions.
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
In This Issue
                                             4 Politics
                                        Canadian   From the Editor / L. Ian MacDonald
                                                   Climate Change & Clean Energy
                                        and Public Kevin
                                              5          Page with Alexandra Ducharme
                                                      Preparing the Fiscal Planet for a Net Zero Economy
    Canadian Politics and
       Public Policy                          8       Dan Woynillowicz
                                                      A Prescription for Climate Progress: Stubborn Optimism,
          L. Ian MacDonald
                                                      and More Stubborn Commitment
                                              12      Kevin Lynch and Paul Deegan
                                                      Toward a Cleaner, Greener Future
           Lisa Van Dusen               15      Jeremy Kinsman
                                                      The Verdict on COP26: Keeping Hope Alive
           Thomas S. Axworthy,
     Andrew Balfour, Yaroslav Baran,          18      Robin V. Sears
                                                      The Accelerated Evolution of Climate Change Politics
       James Baxter, Daniel Béland,
   Derek H. Burney, Catherine Cano,
Stéphanie Chouinard, Margaret Clarke,
                                              22      Velma McColl
                                                      Climate Policy Post-COP26: Finally Catching Up with the Future
       Rachel Curran, Paul Deegan,
    John Delacourt, Susan Delacourt,
       Graham Fraser, Dan Gagnier,
                                              25      Elizabeth May
                                                      Patching the Leaky Boat of the COP Process
   Helaina Gaspard, Martin Goldfarb,
    Sarah Goldfeder, Patrick Gossage,
     Frank Graves, Jeremy Kinsman,            Clean Energy Solutions
      Shachi Kurl, Philippe Lagassé,
      Brad Lavigne, Jeremy Leonard,
    Kevin Lynch, Leslie MacKinnon,
                                              28      John Stackhouse
                                                      Canada’s Road to Net Zero--A $2 Trillion Clean Energy Transition
  Peter Mansbridge, Carissima Mathen,
      Elizabeth May, Velma McColl,            32      Lee Richardson
                                                      How Alberta is Doing its Part on Climate Change and the New Economy
Elizabeth McIninch, David McLaughlin,
     David Mitchell, Don Newman,
  Geoff Norquay, Fen Osler-Hampson,           35      John Delacourt
                                                      Navigating the Politics of Crisis: Engaging with Government in
         Kevin Page, André Pratte,
    Lee Richardson, Colin Robertson,                  Extraordinary Times
    Robin V. Sears, Vianne Timmons,
 Brian Topp, Lori Turnbull, Jaime Watt,       37      John Gorman
                                                      A Path to Net Zero with Nuclear in the Mix
          Anthony Wilson-Smith,
            Dan Woynillowicz
            WEB DESIGN
                                              40      Derek Nighbor and Kate Lindsay
                                                      Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Forestry Solutions for Canada’s
            Nicolas Landry                            Climate Targets
         Grace MacDonald                      Book Reviews
                                              45      Review by Anthony Wilson-Smith
         Benoit Deneault                              By Beverley McLachlin
          Monica Thomas                       47      Review by Charlie Angus
                                                      The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present
               Policy                                 By Paul McCartney
 Policy is published six times annually
 by LPAC Ltd. The contents are                49      Review by Colin Robertson
                                                      The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes
 copyrighted, but may be reproduced
 with permission and attribution in                   Espionage in the US-China Cyber War
 print, and viewed free of charge at the              By Mike Blanchard and Fen Osler Hampson
 Policy home page at
 Price: $7.95 per issue                       50      Review by Paul Deegan
                                                      Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years in NHL History
 Annual Subscription: $45.95
                                                      By Evan Dowbiggin and Bruce Dowbiggin
 St. Joseph Communications,
 1165 Kenaston Street,                        51      Column / Don Newman
                                                      Ottawa’s New Pastime: Leadership Speculation
 Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1A4
 Available in Air Canada Maple Leaf           Special Thanks to our Sponsors: RBC, Forest Products Association of Canada,
 Lounges across Canada, as well as
 VIA Rail Lounges in Montreal, Ottawa
                                              Canadian Nuclear Association and Enbridge.
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 Now available on PressReader.
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Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
Canada’s forests have a critical role to play in our
collective fight against climate change.
But how we manage them matters.

Sustainable forest management and harvested wood products work together to
capture and store carbon.

Now is the time for Canada to leverage the power of sustainable forest management as a
nature-based climate solution to deliver on our international commitments, grow our
forest-based economy, and help our forests adapt to a changing climate.

Learn more:
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine

                               From the Editor / L. Ian MacDonald

                               Climate Change
                               & Clean Energy
               elcome to our special issue,      hasten the private sector’s adjustment”.     policy environment.Canadian Nucle-
               Climate Change & Clean            For our lead foreign affairs writer Jere-    ar Association President John Gorman
               Energy, a timely update and       my Kinsman, Glasgow was an import-           attended COP and concludes: “Gov-
    look ahead following COP26. If there’s       ant wakeup call to the world. “It’s the      ernments around the world must look
    one thing delegates and observers            ultimate stress test,” he writes, “of the    beyond election cycles to the 30-year
    from nearly 200 countries agreed on at       abilities of the world’s nations and peo-    imperative of net zero.”
    Glasgow, it was that global warming is       ples to work together in our collective      Derek Nighbor and Kate Lindsay of
    no longer a hypothetical conversation        defence and existential interest.” Rob-      the Forest Products Association of
    about dire developments in the future.       in Sears writes of the politics of climate   Canada, note that Canada, with only
    Climate change is occurring in the           change in Canada, at both the federal        0.5 percent of global population, is
    here and now, and the question is how        and provincial levels. In coming elec-       home to 9 percent of the world’s for-
    the world achieves “net zero” to miti-       tions, he predicts “the victors will be      ests. And forests absorb 2.6 billion
    gate the consequences for humanity,          those who have delivered believable vi-      tonnes of CO2 per year, one-third
    in economic and social terms, to say         sions of a sustainable Canada.”              of all released annually from fossils
    nothing of the costs of recovery.            Velma McColl was at COP and writes           fuels.

    First, we present analyses of the issues,    that, “we began to see the silhouette of        n Book Reviews, we’re delighted to
    from the urgency of climate change in        collective leadership that would imple-         offer a variety of must-reads.
    global terms to some of the specifics such   ment a shift toward the future.” Eliza-
                                                                                                 First, Anthony Wilson-Smith weighs
    as the firestorms and floods that have       beth May was also in Glasgow, the 12th
                                                                                              in with a positive appraisal of former
    devastated British Columbia and oth-         COP conference she’s attended since the
                                                                                              Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s new
    er regions of Canada. Then, on to clean      first one in Berlin in 1995. But the for-
                                                                                              novel, Denial, in a courthouse setting.
    energy, from renewables to innovations       mer Green leader also served in the Mul-
    and technology upgrades, and the posi-       roney government’s environment min-          Then NDP rock critic Charlie Angus
    tive involvement of Canadian corporate,      istry at a time when Canada played a         offers a compelling review of The Lyr-
    industrial and financial leaders.            leading role, “from acid rain to the ozone   ics, Paul McCartney’s account of how
                                                 layer, from the Montreal Protocol in         the Beatles got their start and why, all
    One effect of climate change, forget
                                                 1987 to the Rio Summit in 1992,” where       these years later, they’re still the best,
    about the FISC as we’ve known it, ad-
                                                 Canada was an early advocate of sustain-     “fresh and ageless”.
    vises Kevin Page, President of the In-
    stitute for Fiscal Studies and Democ-        able development. The time for Canadi-       Colin Robertson looks at Chinese
    racy at University of Ottawa. Page and       an leadership is back, she concludes.        hostage diplomacy in The Two Mi-

    economics student Alexandra Ducha-                   n a solutions agenda, RBC Se-        chaels, an important analysis by Mike
    rme offer a sense, as he says, “of what              nior VP John Stackhouse writes       Blanchfield and Fen Osler Hampson
    the fiscal planning framework might                  that “we need a new playbook,        of the three years Canadians Michael
    look like in a net zero economy.”            for finance, policy and regulation.”         Kovrig and Michael Spavor spent im-
                                                                                              prisoned by the Beijing dictatorship.
    Climate change consultant Dan                Former Calgary MP Lee Richard-
    Woynillowicz notes “the ‘new normal’         son, who previously was chief of             And Habs fan Paul Deegan consid-
    is that there is no normal anymore.”         staff to the legendary Premier Peter         ers Inexact Science, by the father-son
    But he remains one of the “stubborn          Lougheed, sees Alberta playing a pos-        team of Evan and Bruce Dowbiggin,
    optimists” that Canada can make sig-         itive role in the transition to a green      on how NHL general managers trade
    nificant progress on meeting its new         energy economy. He writes: “Alberta          for draft picks.
    goals of emission reductions.                may be Canada’s largest generator of         Finally, columnist Don Newman
    As former Privy Council Clerk Kevin          carbon emissions, but it may also be         looks at the first weeks of the new
    Lynch and onetime White House aide           a key to Canada’s net zero solution.”        Parliament, and writes that a minori-
    Paul Deegan observe, “governments            John Delacourt offers some thoughts          ty House raises the possibility of suc-
    will need to provide the incentives and      on government and business engaging          cession in the leadership of both the
    supportive regulatory environment to         effectively in a post-Glasgow public         Liberal and Conservative parties.

Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine

Preparing the Fiscal Planet
for a Net Zero Economy
The economic challenges of meeting the climate change                               Agreement greenhouse gas emissions
                                                                                    targets into legislative objectives and
commitments of the Paris Agreement and COP26 will                                   climate policies. These commitments
require the greatest adjustment to our existing fiscal                              and a vision for a new growth agen-
                                                                                    da increase certainty for investment.
regimes in decades. That required shift in both spending
                                                                                    Step two: private finance helps busi-
and global accountability has already prompted action                               nesses realign its business models for
at the international level. Kevin Page and Alexandra                                a net zero economy. Step three: public
                                                                                    and private sectors work together and
Ducharme of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy                           adjust plans as needed to smooth ad-
look at how Canada should respond.                                                  justment and minimize costs.
                                                                                    The scale and timelines of change as-
                                                                                    sociated with the new climate targets
Kevin Page with                         In military parlance, this is the equiva-   in Canada are ambitious:
                                        lent of a full-frontal attack. Can we im-
Alexandra Ducharme                      plement? Can we transform the way
                                                                                      • A reduction in GHG emissions
                                                                                        by 40 to 45 percent by 2030 from
Do we have fiscal planning frame-       political and business leaders make de-
                                                                                        2005 levels. GHG emissions re-
work in Canada in place to credibly     cisions and the way we live our lives
                                                                                        mained relatively flat from 2000
support the economic transformation     given the scale and timelines of glob-
                                                                                        to 2020. The pain of adjustment
consistent with the government’s        al warming as projected by scientists at
                                                                                        lies in front of us (Chart 1);
2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emis-      the United Nations (UN) International
                                        Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?               • GHG emissions are heavily em-
sions (GHG) targets?
                                                                                        bedded in current infrastructure
No.                                     The global strategy is simple and po-
                                                                                        of most economic sectors – trans-
                                        tentially powerful. As articulated by
Canada, like other advanced coun-       Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for               portation, oil and gas, electricity,
tries, will need to re-think how it     Climate Action and Finance, we need             heavy industry, buildings, agri-
plans, allocates and reports on the     to create a “virtuous circle of inno-           culture, and waste. We do not
use of taxpayer resources in order to   vation and investment”. Step one:               have a pan-Canadian infrastruc-
effectively de-carbonize our energy     countries turn Paris Climate Change             ture needs assessment;
systems and economy.                                                                  • A complete re-balancing of our
The process of changing the way                                                         energy sector from non-renew-
                                                 The global
budgets look and operate is under-                                                      able to renewable supply is re-
way with the help of internation-
                                                 consortium of                          quired. Energy’s nominal GDP
al leadership from the Paris-based      independent think                               contribution is about $200 bil-
Organisation for Economic Co-op-        tanks that produces the                         lion a year. It employs about
eration and Development (OECD).         Climate Change Tracker                          300,000 people directly and
The budgetary work to address                                                           550,000 thousand people indi-
climate change is being comple-
                                        rates Canadian plans and                        rectly. Canada’s primary ener-
mented by efforts from interna-         efforts as “highly                              gy production represents about
tional accounting standard boards       insufficient”. While the                        four percent of global supply
on sustainability, from central         domestic targets are rated                      (more than 35,000 petajoules).
banks on modeling economic im-                                                          Renewable energy sources (hy-
                                        as average, we score low on
pacts, from financial oversight                                                         dro, bioenergy, wind, solar,
organizations on risk exposure,         domestic policies and                           geothermal, oceans) account
and from private sector initia-         actions and international                       for just under 20 percent of en-
tives to promote corporate social       climate finance support.                        ergy supply. We need to plan
responsibility.                                                                         for an 80-20 reversal;

                                                                                                January—February 2022
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
    Canada does not have a good track                      commitments were made in the            The global consortium of indepen-
    record when it comes to taking cred-                   2021 election campaign. These re-       dent think tanks that produces the
    ible and sufficient measures to ad-                    sources are spread across all key       Climate Change Tracker rates Canadi-
    dress climate change.                                  sectors. There are monies to en-        an plans and efforts as “highly insuf-
    In recent years, Canada has intro-                     courage innovation in clean tech-       ficient”. While the domestic targets
    duced wide ranging policies to ad-                     nologies (e.g., Net Zero Accelerator    are rated as average, we score low on
    dress climate change. Legislation                      Fund). There are numerous regula-       domestic policies and actions and in-
    was passed in 2021, the Canadian                       tory measures (e.g. Federal Green-      ternational climate finance support.

    Net Zero Emissions Accountability                      house Gas Offset System, Clean                 fter spending some $300 bil-
    Act, that enshrines a net zero GHG                     Fuel Standards).                               lion on direct fiscal sup-

    emissions target into law. Manda-                              otwithstanding significant             ports and a similar additional
    tory carbon pricing has been in ef-                            efforts, nobody really thinks   amount allocated in liquidity mea-
    fect across the country since 2019.                            we have done enough to put      sures to address a global health crisis
    The carbon price is planned to rise                    our economy on track to decarbon-       in Canada over a few years, the scale
    significantly ($15 per tonne per                       ize and achieve the 2030 and 2050       of the effort required to address cli-
    year) from $65 in 2023 to $170 in                      targets. Even with better price sig-    mate change remains largely un-cost-
    2030.                                                  nals and regulations, a $100 billion    ed. Analysis by the Canadian Insti-
    According to its 2020 plan, A                          dollar commitment over a decade         tute for Climate Change Choices (Tip
    Healthy Environment and a Healthy                      to address mitigation and adap-         of the Iceberg, 2020) indicates the av-
    Economy, “the Government of Can-                       tion is not going to be enough in       erage cost of a weather-related disas-
    ada has invested over $100 billion                     a high-carbon per capita economy        ter has gone up more than 1000-fold
    toward climate action and clean                        with a GDP approaching $2.5 tril-       since the 1970s. Annual econom-
    growth since 2015, with roughly                        lion a year and an energy sector (80    ic costs have gone from millions to
    $60 billion from 2015 to 2019 and                      percent dependent on non-renew-         billions of dollars. The trend line is
    $54 billion towards Canada’s green                     ables) that generates $200 billion      well- established. The direction is up
    recovery since October 2020.” More                     per year.                               and steep.

    CHART 1: Historical GHG Emissions and Emissions needed to reach COP26 goals

                                                                    45% target    40% target





                                                           20 9


    Source: Government of Canada

Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine
It is in this context that the OECD
                                               Climate policy must inform fiscal planning.
has started working with member
countries to better incorporate cli-           Economic and fiscal planning outlooks need
mate policy into the budget process    to be extended to deal with the longer-term horizons
and reporting.                         of climate impacts. Climate change impacts need
According to Robert Marleau and        to be embedded in baseline and scenario
Camille Montpetit, two Canadi-         projections.
an experts on parliamentary proce-
dure and practice, budgets are first
and foremost “a comprehensive as-
sessment of the financial standing
of the government and an overview      Joe Biden has recently announced a       Climate policy must inform fiscal
of the nation’s economic condi-        net zero federal government target       planning. Economic and fiscal plan-
tion.” In a world facing impending     for 2050 with interim goals for spe-     ning outlooks need to be extended
dangers from climate change and a      cific sectors (including buildings       to deal with the longer-term hori-
global economy struggling to adapt,    and vehicles).                           zons of climate impacts. Climate
a nation’s economic condition is                                                change impacts need to be embed-
                                       The Liberal 2021 party platform
tied to the environment. Financial                                              ded in baseline and scenario pro-
                                       highlighted the need for federal
standing includes both fiscal and      spending reviews. Budget 2021 high-      jections. Independent fiscal institu-
environmental sustainability and       lighted a commitment to a nation-        tions in the US (the Congressional
resilience.                            al infrastructure needs assessment.      Budget Office) and EU are making

     he OECD green budgeting           The government should move for-          these adjustments. Canada should
     framework has four building       ward with these initiatives in 2022.     follow suit.
     blocks.                           Green budgeting should complement
                                       the work of the government on gen-       Green budget statements should
One, a strategic framework:                                                     make it easy for provinces and ter-
                                       der budgeting.
The Global Commission on Climate                                                ritories, cities, First Nations, and
                                       Three,      accountability        and
and Economy has made the case                                                   the private sector to know how bud-
that we need a new growth agenda                                                gets are evolving and their impacts
for a climate economy that focuses     Effective scrutiny both before au-       on climate objectives from their
on the interaction between technol-    thorities are provided by Parliament     perspectives.
ogy innovation, sustainable infra-     and after the money is spent through
                                       evaluation and audit are necessary for   Annual meetings of the Council of
structure and resource productivi-
ty. Canada does not have a growth      good fiscal management of taxpayer       the Federation (premiers, territorial
strategy. Canadian economists and      dollars. The OECD recommends the         leaders and others) should include
former senior Finance Canada civ-      use of a Green Budgeting statement       a standing agenda item on climate
il servants such as David Dodge and    to inform Parliamentarians, stake-       policy, mitigation and adaption
Don Drummond have called for an        holders and citizens how fiscal pol-     progress.
investment orientated growth strat-    icy is being used to support climate
                                                                                The Chinese proverb says that a jour-
egy – missing from all party plat-     objectives.
                                                                                ney of a thousand miles begins with
forms in the 2021 federal election     The Liberal government has pro-          a single step. Canada has taken sev-
campaign.                              posed the establishment of a net zero    eral steps to strengthen its climate
Two, evidence generation and policy    advisory committee to provide ad-        policy. Putting those commitments
coherence:                             vice on pathways to achieve net zero.    into action through its fiscal plan-
                                       Consideration should be given to es-
Current public finance manage-                                                  ning framework would be a leap for-
                                       tablishing an independent body re-
ment frameworks need to system-                                                 ward.
                                       porting to Parliament on the effica-
atically incorporate information       cy of policies and progress towards      Contributing writer Kevin Page is Pres-
on environmental and/or climate        emissions targets.                       ident and CEO of the Institute of Fis-
impacts. This includes green bud-                                               cal Studies and Democracy at the Uni-
get tagging where all new measures     Four, budgetary governance:
                                                                                versity of Ottawa. He was previously
are assessed from an environmen-       A fiscal planning framework for
                                                                                Canada’s first Parliamentary Budget
tal perspective. France and Ireland    green budgeting needs to include di-
have started this practice. Spending   rect links between strategy and bud-
reviews should be conducted from       get plans, department spending,          Alexandra Ducharme is a fourth-year
a climate goal and efficiency/effec-   performance reporting and citizen        economics undergraduate student at the
tiveness perspective. US President     engagement.                              University of Ottawa.

                                                                                            January—February 2022
Climate Change Clean Energy - Canadian Politics and Public Policy - Policy Magazine

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with US President Joe Biden and British PM Boris Johnson, host of COP26. “The science is clear,” Trudeau told the
    Leaders’ Summit in Glasgow. “We must do more, and faster.” --Adam Scotti photo

    A Prescription for Climate
    Progress: Stubborn Optimism,
    and More Stubborn Commitment
    Between criticism from the left that the Trudeau government                                      remind us that this would imply a new
                                                                                                     and static stability that simply doesn’t
    is doing too little on climate change and criticism from the                                     exist. If anything, the “new normal” is
    right that it is doing too much, it can be hard to discern                                       that there is no normal anymore. The
                                                                                                     amount of carbon pollution we have
    precisely what it has done and where climate policy expert
                                                                                                     and continue to pump into the atmo-
    Dan Woynillowicz provides a briefing.                                                            sphere is changing our climate and the
                                                                                                     weather systems it fuels.
                                                                                                     This isn’t to suggest that efforts to cut
    Dan Woynillowicz                                wildfires and flooding, and felt the
                                                    sense of helplessness shared by most             carbon pollution and take climate ac-

           eat domes. Atmospheric riv-              British Columbians as the toll in lives          tion are futile. To the contrary, it simply
           ers. In 2021, my vocabulary                                                               reinforces the imperative to strengthen
                                                    and livelihoods ticked upwards with
           expanded in ways I hadn’t                                                                 and accelerate efforts. As Prime Minis-
                                                    each disaster.
    anticipated. Living in British Colum-                                                            ter Justin Trudeau noted in his speech
    bia, I witnessed the cascading im-              While some commentators character-               at the COP26 climate change negotia-
    pacts to services and supply chains             ize these catastrophic weather events            tions in Glasgow, “The science is clear:
    that accompanied the heatwaves,                 as our “new normal,” climate scientists          we must do more, and faster.”

To Canada’s and the Prime Minis-                                                          al election and COP26, the govern-
                                                    The “new normal”
ter’s credit, these words aren’t simply                                                   ment exercised its right to a 90-day
good intentions, but are backed up by               is that there is no                   extension and so will deliver it by the
a track record of effort, accompanied       normal anymore. The                           end of March. The plan will not only
by clear and specific commitments to        amount of carbon pollution                    incorporate all the policies and pro-
do more. To some, this might seem                                                         grams described above, it will also in-
                                            we have and continue to
a controversial statement. You don’t                                                      clude the big promises made in the
have to look far to find criticism of       pump into the atmosphere                      Liberals’ 2021 election platform:
the Canadian government’s climate           ischanging our climate and
                                                                                            • Mandating the sale of zero-emis-
efforts – that it has been too slow, too    the weather systems it fuels.                     sion vehicles so that 100 percent
weak, and simply hasn’t reduced na-
                                                                                              of new light-duty vehicles (cars,
tional carbon pollution (at least not
                                                                                              pickups, etc.) sold in Canada are
yet). As leaders of the NDP and Green

                                                   et despite all this effort, car-           zero emission by 2035 and at
Party trumpeted in last fall’s elec-
                                                   bon pollution isn’t yet falling            least 50 percent by 2030;
tion, the Trudeau Liberals were more
about pretty words than real action.               in Canada. What gives?                   • Developing emissions standards
But as Charles Dickens wrote in Great       Regrettably, what the federal govern-             for heavy-duty vehicles that are
Expectations, “Take nothing on its          ment does (or doesn’t do) is not the              aligned with the most ambitious
looks; take everything on evidence.         sole determinant of emissions in our              standards in North America,
There’s no better rule.” In this spirit,    federation. It’s a shared responsibility          and requiring that 100 percent
a brief recap is in order:                  with provinces, and during the Lib-               of selected categories of medi-
                                            erals’ tenure, the provinces that con-            um- and heavy-duty vehicles be
Following their 2015 election win,                                                            zero emission by 2040;
the Liberals brought Canada into the        tribute the most pollution — Alberta
Paris Agreement and drew provinces          and Ontario — both saw changes in               • Capping emissions from the oil
together behind the Pan-Canadian            government that led to a rollback of              and gas sector at current levels
Framework on Clean Growth and Cli-          provincial climate efforts and a delib-           and requiring that they decline
mate Change. They introduced a na-          erate effort to stymie federal efforts.           at the pace and scale needed to
tional price on carbon pollution, de-       But equally significant is the reality that       get to net zero by 2050;
fended it up to the Supreme Court           policies, programs, and regulations take        • Developing a plan to reduce
of Canada, and have committed to            time to design and, when implement-               methane emissions across the
a schedule of increases out to 2030.        ed, don’t create change overnight —               broader Canadian economy in
They have secured a phase-out of coal-      there is an unavoidable lag. But consult          support of the Global Methane
fired power at home and championed          experts, and they’ll tell you that the            Pledge and the goals in Canada’s
the Powering Past Coal Alliance in-         policies now being advanced will begin            climate plan, reducing oil and
ternationally, advanced a Clean Fuel        to reduce pollution in short order, and           gas methane emissions by at
Standard to clean up fuel for gas vehi-     those reductions will grow and acceler-           least 75 percent below 2012 lev-
cles, and made major strides to enable      ate as they take hold.                            els by 2030 through an approach
more Canadians to ditch their gas ve-                                                         that includes regulations, as well
hicles, buy electric replacements and       Fortunately, we don’t just have to go
                                            on faith and expert analysis. The pas-            as regulating methane landfill
keep them charged.                                                                            emissions and reducing agricul-
                                            sage of the Canadian Net zero Emis-
Their 2019 election platform prom-          sions Accountability Act will provide             tural methane emissions; and
ised even more, and they delivered.         Canadians with more clarity than                • Transitioning to a net zero emit-
The Healthy Environment, Healthy            we’ve ever had about what efforts the             ting electricity grid by 2035.
Economy climate plan released in late

                                            government is making, and of the
2020, and supported by new invest-                                                                   hile many of these com-
                                            expected results from those efforts.                     mitments include targets
ments in the 2021 budget, put Can-
                                            While most public and media atten-                       that extend beyond 2030,
ada on track to achieve a 36 percent
                                            tion to this legislation focused on its       the plan is required to include pro-
reduction below 2005 levels by 2030
                                            targets, its real value is in the obliga-     jections of the annual greenhouse gas
(beating the original Paris target of 30
                                            tion it creates for the government to         emission reductions resulting from
percent). They could have coasted but
                                            establish and publish detailed plans,         those combined measures and strate-
understood more action is both need-
                                            and to prepare progress reports for           gies—including projections for each
ed and expected of Canada. So, in
                                            milestone years, with the first report        economic sector. For the first time,
keeping with the Paris Agreement re-
                                            due by no later than the end of 2023.         there will be clear and quantitative
quirement to review and increase am-
bition on a five-year cycle, they filed a   The first of these plans was intend-          transparency around the scale and
new target of a 40 to 45 percent pollu-     ed to be due by the end of 2021 but           timing of emission reductions, which
tion reduction by 2030.                     considering the timing of the feder-          Canadians can use to both hold the

                                                                                                      January—February 2022
     government accountable and to eval-
     uate its progress. By the next election,
     whenever it may be, we should be able
     to see how big the gap is between am-
     bition and action, words and results.
     Finally, three decades after Canada rat-
     ified the United Nations Framework
     Convention on Climate Change (1992)
     and two decades after Canada ratified
     its first emission reduction commit-
     ment in the Kyoto Protocol (2002), we
     are beginning to get the institution-
     al and administrative pieces in place
     to track federal climate action efforts.
     And I say “beginning” because the job
     isn’t yet complete. As helpful as the
     Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act
     is in establishing plans and tracking
     performance against them, it doesn’t
     explicitly require or drive the chang-
     es in governance—both the form and
     function of government—needed to
                                                 Prime Minister Trudeau with new Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault at COP26, “a strong signal,”
     execute these plans.
                                                 writes Dan Woynillowicz, that Ottawa is serious about action on climate change.--Adam Scotti photo
     But on this front, there are some signs
     of progress nonetheless, from the es-
     tablishment of a Cabinet Committee          nective tissue between these minis-                 and the Canadian Institute for Climate
     on Economy, Inclusion and Climate           tries that holds interesting potential              Choices, Greater than the sum of its
     to a focus on climate action in the                                                             parts: How a whole-of-government ap-
                                                 for better political integration.
     mandate letters of all ministers, in-                                                           proach to climate change can improve
     cluding specific deliverables for some.     Meanwhile, in the public service, the
                                                                                                     Canada’s climate performance, quite
     Similarly, climate change is increas-       government has established a climate
                                                                                                     rightly notes that achieving Canada’s
     ingly being considered in everything        secretariat within the Privy Council
                                                                                                     climate targets “will require the active
     from government procurement to              Office (PCO), though its mandate
                                                                                                     involvement of departments as dispa-
     policy development, and the Healthy         and influence aren’t yet clear. Opti-
                                                                                                     rate as Finance, Infrastructure, Trans-
     Environment, Healthy Economy plan           mally, it should have a focus on pol-
                                                                                                     port, Natural Resources, Environment
     pledged to “Apply a climate lens to inte-   icy integration and efficiency, with
                                                                                                     and Climate Change, Agriculture and
     grate climate considerations through-       responsibility for navigating com-                  Agri-Food, Crown-Indigenous Rela-
     out government decision-making” by          peting priorities, trade-offs, and syn-             tions and Northern Affairs, Public
     ensuring government decisions “con-         ergies among federal departments,
     sider climate ambitions in a rigorous,                                                          Safety and Emergency Preparedness,
                                                 helping to develop climate plans and                Employment and Social Development,
     consistent and measurable manner…
                                                 shepherding their implementation.                   and others, necessitating a coordinat-
     that ensures that government spend-
     ing and decisions support Canada’s          A recent report by the International                ed approach to ensure coherent im-
     climate goals.”                             Institute for Sustainable Development               plementation of climate strategy.” In-

                                                                                                     formed by detailed case studies of
          ollowing the 2021 election, the                                                            whole-of-government efforts in the
          decision to shift the former en-               For the first time,
                                                                                                     UK, US and B.C., it offers important
          vironment minister, Jonathan                   there will be clear                         recommendations for implementing
     Wilkinson, to the Natural Resources         and quantitative                                    a cohesive and effective whole-of-gov-
     portfolio, and Steven Guilbeault to
     Environment was broadly perceived
                                                 transparency around the                             ernment approach to climate change,
     as a strong signal that the govern-         scale and timing of emission                        which the Prime Minister’s Office and
                                                                                                     PCO would do well to follow:
     ment intends to move quickly on its         reductions, which Canadians
     campaign promises. Notably, the cre-        can use to both hold the                            1. The success of a whole-of-govern-
     ation of a parliamentary secretary                                                                 ment climate initiative depends on
     role, held by Julie Dabrusin, to work
                                                 government accountable and                             sustained executive leadership di-
     with both the natural resources and         to evaluate its progress.                              recting departmental priorities and
     environment ministers creates a con-                                                               inter-departmental coordination.

2. An effective whole-of-government                 The decision to shift                 be able to see that things are hopeless
   climate initiative requires adequate                                                   yet be determined to make them other-
                                                    the former
   funding, a clear mandate, and ca-                                                      wise.” In the era of climate disruption,
   pacity to enact change across
                                            environment minister,                         these words ring true, although in my
   departments.                             Jonathan Wilkinson, to the                    view it’s less a measure of intelligence
3. An effective whole-of-government         Natural Resources portfolio,                  than emotional fortitude and resilience.
   climate initiative requires effective    and Steven Guilbeault to                      What all of this means for the feder-
   and empowered personnel acting           Environment was broadly                       al government is that expectations are
                                                                                          high for it to deliver on its climate ac-
   in whole-of-government structures.       perceived as a strong signal
                                                                                          tion ambitions and commitments, and
4. The mandates of participating            that the government intends                   it has the public support it requires to
   departments must align, or be            to move quickly on its                        move forward assertively. But adding
   brought into alignment, with the
                                            campaign promises.                            to the challenge is the obvious imper-
   mandate of the whole-of-govern-
                                                                                          ative to not only try to cut pollution
   ment climate initiative.                                                               to prevent the worst impacts of climate
5. A whole-of-government climate            Much as we might hope that B.C’s              change, but to prepare for and manage
   initiative should report publicly        climate annus horribilis was an ex-           the impacts that climate change is al-
   on its progress and be as transpar-      ception, years without climate-fu-            ready imposing. Consequently, in par-
   ent as possible about its delibera-      elled disasters somewhere in Canada           allel to advancing an ambitious policy
   tions, findings, and research.           are more likely to be the exception.          package to cut pollution, it will need
                                            Nonetheless, a Leger poll from No-            to deliver reactive emergency support
Over the course of its first six years in
                                            vember 2021 found that 75 percent of          in response to floods and fire, while si-
office, the Liberal party effectively ad-
                                            Canadians believe we still have time          multaneously making investments in
vanced numerous policies and pro-
                                            to put measures in place to stop cli-         climate-proofing infrastructure and
grams that promise to deliver emission
                                            mate change. They, like me, appear to         delivering programs that will make
reductions in the coming years. Equal-
                                            be what Christiana Figueres, the dip-         Canadians safer and more resilient in
ly important, they created a system of
                                            lomat who brokered the Paris Agree-           the face of a changing climate.
transparency and accountability we
have never previously had at the fed-       ment, calls “stubborn optimists.”             It’s no small task, but I remain stub-
eral level. Hopefully, by the time the      F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that, “The test     bornly optimistic.
next election rolls around, Canadians       of a first-rate intelligence is the ability   Contributing Writer Dan Woynillowicz is
will be able to get a clear view of what    to hold two opposing ideas in mind at         the Principal of Polaris Strategy + Insight,
has been promised, what has been de-        the same time and still retain the ability    a public policy consulting firm focused on
livered, and whether the two line up.       to function. One should, for example,         climate change and the energy transition.


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                                                                                                        January—February 2022
Parliament and the federal government will play an important role in coordinating the response of the provinces, and stakeholders including
business and First Nations, to the global challenges of climate change. iStock photo

Toward a Cleaner, Greener Future
When it comes to climate change, Canada is in the                                                 Since 1995, China has achieved the
                                                                                                  dubious honour of becoming the
delicate position of being both a fossil fuel exporter and                                        world’s largest emitter, now account-
environmental champion. At COP26, Prime Minister                                                  ing for more CO2 emissions than the
                                                                                                  four next offenders combined: the
Justin Trudeau made clear that the political calculus on                                          United States, India, Russia, and Ja-
this issue has changed. Former Privy Council Clerk Kevin                                          pan. Together, these nations account
Lynch and former White House aide Paul Deegan provide                                             for an eye-popping 60 per cent of all
                                                                                                  global emissions. And the trend is still
the context for our current status quo.                                                           upward for emissions from China, In-
                                                                                                  dia and the developing world.
                                                                                                  While the US, Russia, and Japan, Can-
Kevin Lynch                                      the right direction, but action hasn’t
                                                                                                  ada and most EU countries have man-
                                                 followed suit. Carbon dioxide emis-
and Paul Deegan                                                                                   aged to cut CO2 emissions modest-
                                                 sions released by global fossil fuel             ly over the past decade, the reality of

    ince COP1 — the first United                 combustion and industrial processes              emissions math is that global emis-
    Nations Climate Change Con-                  have jumped from about 25 billion                sions have to reach zero on a net basis
    ference in Berlin back in 1995 —             metric tonnes annually in 1995 to                by 2050 to arrest the upward march
the dialogue around our impact on                roughly 35 billion metric tonnes by              of global warming. That is the im-
the planet has gradually moved in                the time of COP26 in Glasgow.                    mensity of the challenge of climate

change. The immediacy of the chal-
                                                  The reality of emissions math is that global
lenge is equally daunting: this decade
will decide whether we have bent the              emissions have to reach zero on a net basis by 2050
CO2 emissions curve enough to have        to arrest the upward march of global warming. That is the
a shot at net zero, or not.               immensity of the challenge of climate change.
Geopolitically, given the difficulties
of getting nearly 200 countries to
agree to anything, COP26 was a mod-
erate aspirational success despite some
last minute backsliding by China and
India and unrealistic expectations by     dra, massive woodlands and mighty          to the availability of fresh water –
activists. Now comes the hard part –      rivers, and pretty much everything         something we have in abundance but
turning those aspirational goals and      in between. We are the stewards of all     take for granted at our peril. Small-
earnest pledges into effective actions    this, and it is in our own self interest   er snowpacks and loss of glacier ice
across the 200 countries that signed      to protect, at a minimum, our piece of     will produce lower summer flow, and
on to saving the planet in Glasgow.       the planet.                                warmer summers will increase evapo-
                                          And climate change, and its conse-         ration of surface water. The even faster
As Bill Gates summed up this chal-                                                   disappearance of freshwater supplies
lenge in his recent book, How to          quences, are not only a reality today
                                          across Canada but will have an even        in the United States and elsewhere
Avoid a Climate Disaster: “We need
                                          bigger impact tomorrow.                    has the potential to stoke geopolitical
to accomplish something gigantic we
                                                                                     tensions and transborder demands to
have never done before, much fast-        The federal government’s 2019 Can-         “share” vital water resources.
er than we have ever done anything        ada’s Changing Climate Report high-
similar. To do it, we need lots of        lights some indisputable truths. Can-      Our three oceans are also changing,
breakthroughs in science and engi-        ada is warming at an alarming rate.        and sea levels are rising. Oceans are
neering. We need to build a consen-       Canada’s annual average temperature        becoming less salty, which affects
sus that doesn’t exist and create pub-    over land has warmed by 1.7 degrees        their ability to sequester greenhouse
lic policies to push a transition that    C since 1948. The change is most pro-      gases. Higher sea levels will give rise
would not happen otherwise.”              nounced over the North, which has          to more frequent and more extreme

                                          seen an increase of 2.3 degrees C over     high water-level events. Hurricanes
            hat does this all mean for
                                          the same period. This warmer climate       will become a more commonplace
            Canada? When it comes
                                          is producing more severe heatwaves,        occurrence in warmer Canadian wa-
            to thinking about climate
                                          droughts, wildfires, and urban floods.     ters. Coastal remediation will be an
change in a Canadian context, it’s im-
                                          All of this is taking a toll on our com-   imperative, not an option.
portant to consider who we are from

geographic, social, economic, and po-     munities, our farmers, our infrastruc-          ocially, Canada’s Indigenous
litical/diplomatic perspectives.          ture, and our resilience.                       peoples are on the frontline of
                                          The Arctic is the proverbial canary in          the impacts of climate change.
Geographically, Canadians are blessed
                                          the climate-change coal mine. Snow         Remoteness in terms of foodstuffs,
far more than most around the plan-
                                          and ice are disappearing. Most small       health care and emergency response;
et. Our national motto, “A Mari Usque
                                          ice caps and ice shelves in the Cana-      a lack of infrastructure; reliance on
ad Mare” (from Sea to Sea) may have
                                          dian Arctic will disappear by 2100.        diesel; decreases in ice thickness
missed the Arctic Ocean, but it defi-
                                          The Beaufort Sea and Baffin Bay are        which create dangers for those on
nitely captures the sheer vastness of
                                          projected to have extensive ice-free       foot and for vehicles; and changes in
our country. We are the second-larg-
                                          periods during summer by mid-cen-          wildlife habitat – both in water and
est country by geographic size, after
                                          tury. Glaciers across the mountains        on land – make Indigenous commu-
only Russia. We have the world’s lon-
                                          of western Canada could lose 75 per-       nities particularly vulnerable. Yet,
gest coastline, at more than 200,000
                                          cent to 95 percent of their volume by      they can teach us and the world
kilometres. We share the world’s lon-
                                          late century. Spring lake-ice break-       much about responsible stewardship
gest international border, some 9,000
                                          up could be 10 to 25 days earlier by       of our land and resources.
kilometers, with the United States. We
are one of only eight Arctic nations.     mid-century, and fall freeze-up five       Economically, climate change is the
We are the third most-forested coun-      to 15 days later. There is a polar bear    most daunting challenge of our time,
try in the world, with nearly 350 mil-    on the toonie to remind us we are          but also a huge opportunity if we re-
lion hectares. We have the fourth larg-   an Arctic nation, and today both the       spond with innovative policies, em-
est supply of fresh water in the world,   Arctic and that polar bear are griev-      brace new technologies and don’t lose
at more than 2,900 cubic kilometers.      ously endangered by climate change.        sight of being competitive. For Cana-
We’ve got towering mountain ranges        The 2019 federal report also high-         da, a nation equally rich in resources
and endless prairies, glaciers and tun-   lights the risks climate change brings     and in talent, we can be a leader in the

                                                                                                  January—February 2022
     transition to a net zero future. Ener-               The Arctic is the                 cy capacity and mobilize like-mind-
     gy remains our biggest export earner,                                                  ed friends in other countries. In par-
     and fossil fuels are going to be need-
                                                          proverbial canary in              ticular, the developing world has to
     ed for some time to come. We need a          the climate-change coal                   be part of the climate change solu-
     two-track approach that is both clear        mine. Snow and ice are                    tion, and the developed world has to
     and innovative: to help our fossil fuel      disappearing. Most small ice              help them financially and techno-
     industry transition to a low-carbon                                                    logically in their transitions, first and
     future and to grow Canada’s clean en-
                                                  caps and ice shelves in the
                                                                                            foremost away from coal.
     ergy sector. The world will continue         Canadian Arctic will
                                                                                            The American relationship on cli-
     to need our natural resources but we         disappear by 2100. The                    mate change holds both promise and
     have to transition to producing them         Beaufort Sea and Baffin
     in a climate-friendly way. It’s about                                                  risk. While Joe Biden is not Donald
     sustaining paychecks and sustaining
                                                  Bay are projected to have                 Trump, his trade policies have Trum-
     the environment – two things that are        extensive ice-free periods                pian echoes and there is a lack of co-
                                                                                            herence to his foreign policy. Pro-
     increasingly intertwined and primary         during summer by
     drivers of living standards.                                                           tecting American jobs and local
                                                  mid-century.                              self interest will be powerful forces
     As Jock Finlayson and David Williams                                                   during the difficult adjustment to
     of the Business Council of British Co-                                                 net zero, as can be seen by the Biden
                                                  ar power capacity. Here, there is great
     lumbia wrote recently wrote in The
                                                  room for cooperation among the fed-       administration’s proposal to exclude
     Globe and Mail: “…policy makers must
                                                  eral government, provinces and First      Canadian-made (and Mexican) EVs
     avoid undermining Canada’s role as
                                                  Nations to expand hydroelectric pro-      from purchase incentives offered
     a trusted supplier of energy, miner-
                                                  duction and distribution, and to con-     to Americans. But Biden recogniz-
     als/metals, foodstuffs and other raw
                                                  sider small modular nuclear reactors      es there is a climate crisis and it re-
     materials. The world consumes these
                                                  for the oil sands, major mining proj-     quires both domestic action and in-
     products and will keep buying them –
                                                  ects and power in the north.              ternational cooperation.
     hopefully from us. Yes, it’s a complex
     balancing act. But Canadian living           To achieve these transitions and others   The COP26 Summit in Glasgow pre-
     standards depend on getting it right.”       at the scale and speed needed, govern-    sented an opportunity to reboot

                                                  ments will need to provide the incen-     and reset the relationship, seeking
                 hether it’s solar, wind, elec-
                                                  tives and supportive regulatory envi-     alignment over an effective Cana-
                 tric vehicles, battery stor-
                                                  ronment to hasten the private sector’s    da-US climate plan, and in so do-
                 age, geothermal, hydrogen,
                                                  adjustment, university researchers will   ing demonstrate coordinated North
     small modular nuclear reactors or car-
                                                  have to become vital partners in find-    American leadership to the world.
     bon capture and storage, technology
                                                  ing technological solutions. And fi-      We have done it before on the envi-
     is rapidly becoming better and cheap-
                                                  nancial markets will have to support      ronment, and it is time for a repeat
     er. Why can’t we think of combin-
                                                  these transitions by adjusting their      performance.
     ing the low carbon footprint of small
                                                  short-term return expectations and fi-
     modular nuclear reactors and carbon                                                    Glasgow achieved about as much as
                                                  nancing innovative technologies.
     capture and storage with the govern-                                                   could have been realistically expect-
     ment’s proposed policy of a cap on           Politically, besides building a strong    ed. It turned public attention around
     oil and gas sector emissions to create       public consensus for change and the       the world to the issue of climate
     a win-win scenario? Can we become            impacts of those changes, the biggest     change, its gravity and its urgency.
     a leader in aspects of electric vehicle      challenge for the federal government      The “why” is clear, the focus in every
     production, reducing transportation          will be working effectively with the      country has to be on the “how” of
     emissions through regulations and            provinces. To state the obvious, this     building a greener, cleaner and pros-
     building an export industry at the           will not be easy, but it is absolutely    perous future. But climate change is
     same time? How do we turn our sci-           necessary given the reality of our fed-
                                                                                            an existential global threat and we
     ence strengths to re-imagine how we          eration and it will require a degree of
                                                                                            can deal with it better, cheaper, and
     do mining, farming and fishing, all          two-way engagement, common pur-
                                                                                            faster by doing it together.
     pillars of our economy?                      pose, and flexibility. At the same
                                                  time, getting the business sector on      Contributing Writer Kevin Lynch, a
     On the clean energy side, we are
                                                  the same page is crucial, and this will   former Clerk of the Privy Council, was
     most competitive globally at nucle-
                                                  take equal dollops of policy certainty,   vice chair of BMO Financial Group.
     ar and hydroelectric power. At near-
     ly 400 terawatt hours, we are the            assistance and partnership.               Contributing Writer Paul Deegan, a

     second largest hydroelectric power                  iplomatically, climate change      former BMO and CN executive, was
     producer in the world. While that’s                 presents more downsides than       Deputy Executive Director of the White
     impressive, China more than tre-                    upside, which is why we have       House National Economic Council
     bles us, and even more so for nucle-         to invest heavily in our foreign poli-    under President Clinton.


The Verdict on COP26:
Keeping Hope Alive
After decades of incremental progress, intermittent                                   warning that, by the end of winter,
                                                                                      “pretty much everyone in Germany
two-steps-back and occasional triumphs, COP26 took its                                will be vaccinated, cured, or dead.”
place in the history of COPs at a time when existential                               In the global response to vaccine
urgency has never been more acute. Veteran diplomat                                   distribution, governments primar-
                                                                                      ily took care of their own citizens.
Jeremy Kinsman explores the twin challenges of COVID-19                               Donations to the Covax scheme im-
and climate change, and what was revealed in Glasgow                                  proved somewhat as vaccine produc-
about our global coping mechanisms.                                                   tion and supply stabilized, but they
                                                                                      are still inadequate and not assured.
                                                                                      Unless the developed world makes ef-
Jeremy Kinsman                             The issue here is whether the world’s
                                                                                      fective vaccines more globally avail-
                                           multilateral and collective behavioural

                                                                                      able, deaths will scale way beyond the
       he “aliens invade Earth” mov-       and institutional equipment is up to
                                                                                      current and undoubtedly understated
       ie genre has plumbed a couple       working in the collective self-interest
                                                                                      toll of five million, depending on the
       of themes over the last many        of humanity. No doubt, competitive
                                                                                      severity of the Omicron and no doubt
years. The more thoughtful – Stanley       nationalism has been on the rise. But
                                                                                      subsequent COVID variants. Still, the
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and        did COP26 show a slight turning of
                                                                                      pandemic is a “once in a century event”
Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of     the tide toward cooperation?
                                                                                      — tragic but transient. Climate change
the Third Kind — offered evolved ex-       The two intersecting crises are            is unfortunately anything but.
traterrestrial civilizations with benev-   worth comparing. Time frames dif-
olent motives to save earthlings from                                                 Global warming is also a borderless
                                           fer. Human pandemics come and go.
our crude inclinations for self-destruc-                                              adversary, but one for which there
                                           COVID’s costs are mostly immediate.
tion. More sensational blockbusters,                                                  is no protective vaccine. Its full de-
                                           But they have landed just when the
though, depict aliens as malevolent                                                   structive effect will be decades hence,
                                           costly challenge of weaning Earth
attackers. In the box-office champ In-                                                though loss and damage and costs of
                                           from what Guterres called “life sup-
dependence Day, humanity unites to                                                    adaptation are already vast.
                                           port” in the race to a survivable cli-

repel the invaders. Earth wins.            mate is at its most urgent.                       limate change impacts every-
Which trope most accurately mirrors                                                          thing: growth, debt, weath-
                                           The stark threat of COVID’s latest vari-
global reaction to the COVID-19 pan-                                                         er, drought, health, migration,
                                           ant surge was vividly depicted by Ger-
demic, and to global warming, stress                                                  conflict, equity, communications, sci-
                                           man Health Minister Jens Spahn as he
tests of international cooperation in                                                 ence, humanity’s capacity for trust in
                                           urged the unvaccinated to get jabbed,
our collective self-defence?                                                          one another, politics and geopolitics.
Former British Prime Minister Gor-                  Former British Prime              Is human governance up to it?
don Brown called the competitive self-                                                Glasgow revealed a lot of what is
                                                    Minister Gordon                   wrong, but also showed glimmers
ishness of nations over COVID: “The
greatest moral failure of our time.” On    Brown called the competitive               of hope for enough political will to
global warming, United Nations Secre-      selfishness of nations over                emerge to point to a way out.
tary-General António Guterres warns,       COVID: “The greatest moral                 Both crises reflect generational divides,
“We are at the edge of the abyss.”
                                           failure of our time.” On global            but with inverse levels of concern.
Our need to be saved from our de-          warming, United Nations                    Those insistent on urgent and maxi-
structive nationalist and selfish in-                                                 mum protection from COVID are old-
clinations is obvious, though salva-
                                           Secretary-General António                  er, more vulnerable citizens, while the
tion will have to be sourced here on       Guterres warns, “We are at                 younger are less concerned, and resent
Earth, not from aliens. Alas, unity in     the edge of the abyss.                     the costs of immediate lockdown. Glob-
face of the threats has been absent.                                                  al warming’s longer time frame means

                                                                                                   January—February 2022
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