Tom, Harris has an Op Ed in the National Post that proposes actions the federal Conservative government should take on the climate change file now they have secured a majority government.
Climate always changes, sometimes dangerously so. Consequently, we should focus on helping our most vulnerable citizens prepare for whatever climate change nature throws at us next, cooling being by far the most dangerous possibility. But the vast sums being funnelled into trying to halt this natural phenomenon is a grossly inappropriate use of Canadian tax dollars.
I agree that Canada never should have joined Kyoto because the government of the day did not have a plan that would lead to those commitments being honored. If Canada is not going to meet the commitments made by a misguided former government, we can and should withdraw from the treaty.
The second set of the recommendations are perhaps the more important ones for the government to consider, namely the funding of climate “education” activities. I fully agree that it is time to get the government to stop funding climate change propaganda and scare mongering. As a starting point, all education budgets should be zero referenced and required to demonstrate both policy relevance and a positive benefit-cost ratio before being funded.
There is a third action in the research community itself that needs to be examined. First, funding dedicated to supporting climate change research should be reviewed with a consideration to enabling them to be used for other research priorities such as human health, agriculture productivity, or technology discovery/development.
Second, climate change research that is conducted by federal scientists or funded by federal financial resources should be required to employ a scenario planning approach to the analysis. Specifically, the research should seek to identify impacts of alternative possible futures that could be warmer, cooler, within the bounds of climate variability experienced in recent history (e.g. last 150 years of direct weather observations), or within the bounds of climate variability experienced in human history (last 2,000 to 3,000 years). All observations, conclusions and findings should make profile each of the above scenarios instead of cherry picking the impacts and implications from just one.
I generally agree that applied research and development funding should be focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change, whether that change is caused by natural variations or is influenced by human actions. Significant variations of climate have occurred in recorded history and we are not well prepared to deal with those variations. The same statement (i.e. we are not prepared) could be made about other known risks such as earthquakes where people appear to be insistent on placing considerable investment and critical infrastructures in harm’s way.
However, I disagree with halting all research into the development of alternative fuels or greenhouse gas mitigation efforts. Canada has to deal with the marketing reality that there is a customer perception that greenhouse gas emissions are problematic and we need to be able to deal with those perceptions. It would not be the first time that suppliers had to invest development funds to address customer preferences and it will not be the last.