What do you Think the Strategy Should Look Like?

The Prime Minister has committed, and held, to a first ministers’ conference within 90 days of the 2015 Paris Summit to work out a national climate strategy.

VIEWS FROM OUR POLITICAL COMMENTATORS: NDP, CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL

BY KATHLEEN MONK

BY KATHLEEN MONK

It’s a new year, and spring has sprung, but if you were hoping politics would shift to the back burner now that the election is over, I’m sorry, but 2016 will be packed with political punch. Politicians (and the price of oil) will continue to dominate the headlines. Our neighbours to the south are occupied with Presidential primaries and here in Canada the political calendar is just as busy.

While I didn’t make the White House’s invite list for the Canada-U.S. State Dinner, I’m not upset. Instead of sipping champagne off Pennsylvania Ave, I would have rather attended the First Ministers’ meeting in Vancouver this past March. As opposed to the White House shin-dig, the First Ministers’ meeting was noteworthy: in style, substance and significance.

The meeting, just four months into Prime Minister Trudeau’s government confirms that Trudeau’s style is markedly different than his predecessor Stephen Harper. Throughout his decade in power, Harper only held one formal First Ministers’ conference in 2009 and already this is Trudeau’s second meeting. Trudeau’s openness to dialogue should be applauded.

“With the economy reeling from the downturn in the resource sector, what we need is climate leadership.”

“With the economy reeling from the downturn in the resource sector, what we need is climate leadership.”

In terms of substance, the Premiers met with Trudeau to hash-out a national climate strategy. At the Paris Summit Canada supported the global goal of keeping rising average temperatures to within 1.5 degrees Celsius, announced $100 million annual investment in clean technology and $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries tackle climate change. But it did not announce new GHG reduction targets.

What is needed now are new domestic targets to reduce GHG emissions and a robust plan to meet them. If they’re looking for ideas, in 2006, my old boss, Jack Layton put forth his targets in the Climate Change Accountability bill. It set out a short-term target 34 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 and a long term target 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. The Premiers also need to create a pan-Canadian cap-and-trade system that puts a price on carbon and look at investing in transit to help our cities reduce emissions. At the Vancouver meeting in March they were able to agree in principle for a carbon-pricing mechanism — although offered no specifics on how it would work.

“The Premiers met with Trudeau in Vancouver this past March to hash-out a national climate strategy.”

“The Premiers met with Trudeau in Vancouver this past March to hash-out a national climate strategy.”

In terms of significance, the meetings on both sides of the border can be called a success. President Obama and Trudeau announced a commitment to cut emissions from the oil and gas sector by up to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025 and the First Ministers’ meeting concluded on a positive note with the agreement on a ‘climate change plan framework’.

With the economy reeling from the downturn in the resource sector, what we need is climate leadership. In the past, Premiers and provinces have led the federal government on smart policy initiatives such as bulk drug purchases to reduce our healthcare costs and now is their time to lead on climate. In fact, Premier Rachel Notley is already doing so. It’s 2016 and if we want a cleaner and greener economy we need to act now. The cost of addressing climate change will only continue to rise.

Kathleen Monk is a public affairs and communications strategist with over 15 years of experience in media, government and the non-profit sector. She appears regularly on CBC The National’s preeminent political panel, The Insiders, and provides analysis for CBC News Network’s Power and Politics.


BY TIM POWERS

BY TIM POWERS

Since taking office last November new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demonstrated that he intends to be a very active leader and command an activist government. Trudeau has attended various summits around the world, including COP21 in Paris just before Christmas. His frenetic pace seems to both reflect his personality and be designed to convey the message that his government will get things done.

Just like when his predecessor Stephen Harper was first elected his popularity remains high and he is leaving his opponents in his dust. For example, a recent Abacus Data poll, released on January 15, 2016, found that approval of Prime Minister Trudeau personally was at 57 per cent, while disapproval was 24 per cent; underlining that a very large proportion of the positive feeling about the government has to do with reactions to Mr. Trudeau himself – See more at: http://abacusdata.ca/how-do-we-feel-about-the-trudeau-government/#sthash.BSbE9fbw.dpuf

On the climate change front Trudeau government officials would argue they are doing everything Stephen Harper didn’t do – a deliberate strategic contrast if there ever was one. They are aiming for higher emission targets. Though these have not been established yet. They are working collaboratively with the provinces. Ontario and Saskatchewan might have different perspectives here. By styling Catherine McKenna as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change they are signaling the importance of their commitment to GHG reductions. The cynics might ask does anyone remember Kyoto and ponder what really is in a name.

“In early March, provincial leaders convened to talk climate change.”

“In early March, provincial leaders convened to talk climate change.”

The prime minister kept his promise to meet with the first ministers 90 days after COP 21. All these leaders convened again to talk climate change in March. Part of Trudeau’s strategy here, as it is on other matters, is to demonstrate that more meetings and more discussions show a commitment to action. That conversation will eventually lead to outcome and a national plan on greenhouse gas reduction; that a different tone will engender goodwill which in turn will produce collaboration or at the very least momentum.

The Prime Minister’s approach is not without political risk. By nature he is an optimistic, even enthusiastic, leader with the language to match. As a consequence, his rhetoric can outpace the reality of what can be done. High political expectations can be a politician’s worst nightmare.

Will the active Prime Minister be able to become an outcomes one? It is far too early to tell. Today’s forecast is for Sunny Ways. Tomorrow’s weather remains unknown.

Tim Powers, is the Vice-Chairman of Summa Strategies Canada and the managing partner of Abacus Data, both headquarter are in Ottawa. Mr. Powers appears regularly on CBC’s Power and Politics program as well as on VOCM in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.


BY STEPHEN HAMPTON

BY STEPHEN HAMPTON

At the beginning of the Paris climate talks, the President of France, Francois Hollande, said to the world, “Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, since what is at stake is the future of the planet, the future of life,” and this set the tone for the seriousness of the talks and the work that each signatory country has to do.

While developing this plan there are some key guiding principles that need to be kept in mind to ensure that Canada’s new climate strategy will be successful. For this to happen, the climate strategy needs to encourage innovation and investments in new and emerging clean technologies in partnership with the private sector. Secondly, the strategy needs to be in partnership with Canada’s energy sector to ensure a collaborative effort is made to reduce carbon emissions and meet targets. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the strategy needs to be a truly Canadian approach, that unifies the country and does not pit one part against another.

To ensure the success of this strategy, it needs to inspire innovation and investments in clean technology. While in Davos, the Prime Minister told the world that “we need policies that encourage science, innovation and research… and we need governments willing to invest in making all that happen, while recognizing the dynamic innovation that happens in the private sector.” Canada’s new climate strategy offers a unique opportunity to incentivize investments and innovation in clean technology, both as a government and as a strong partner with the private sector. This includes new developing renewable energy sources but also must include new innovative ways of reducing emissions for our non-renewable energy sources.

“Canada’s new climate change strategy cannot be exclusive of our energy sector and needs to be crafted with extensive consultations.”

CanadaCanada’s new climate change strategy cannot be exclusive of our energy sector and needs to be crafted with extensive consultations that result in a partnership with the goal of reducing emissions while growing our economy. Far too often international agreements like the Paris Agreement result in a lot of posturing but little action. This strategy needs to be impactful in a quantifiable way to ensure its integrity and credibility, which can only be done through open consultations and a joint partnership between the government and our energy sectors.

Finally, the climate change strategy has to be a Canadian approach that unifies our country to act as one and does not pit one part of the country against another. The prime minister has already committed to allowing each province to take the approach that works best for them. Justin Trudeau speaks often about Canadians coming together and tackling a problem and like the way Canadians rallied to welcome Syrian refugees, Canadians must now rally together to fight climate change.

As Justin Trudeau and his team continue to craft Canada’s new climate change strategy, it must include a clear pathway for job creation and innovation in partnership with the private sector, it must be a result of extensive consultations and energy sector partnership, and it must be truly Canadian.

Stephen Hampton is a Consultant at Crestview Strategy, a public affairs agency with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Stephen started his career on Parliament Hill and has worked for political campaigns at all levels of government.