All bets are off

There is a very useful article in the Winter 2016 issue of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute’s Dispatch by Randolph Mank headlined: Trump and Foreign Policy: All Bets Are Off.

s-l300Randolph Mank highlights three areas in which he suggests that president elect Donal Trump will upset the Justin Trudeau ~ Stéphane Dion sunny and green world view:

  1. Trade;
  2. Energy and the environment; and
  3. Defence spending.

On trade, he says that “Since exports account for fully one third of our GDP, what we really do need from our foreign policy is free and open markets, with enforceable rules. Despite heated national debates over the details, good trade agreements are clearly in Canada’s interests” … [but] … “the future of our trade policy agenda really turns not on our own ongoing national debate, but on whether Mr. Trump actually tears up both NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, as he has vowed to do. In anticipation, we need to prepare for another protracted and fractious period of negotiations. Our CETA trade agreement with Europe is an important step forward. But nearly 80 per cent of our trade takes place with the U.S.; no market is more vital to our economic survival.”

“”Our positions on energy and the environment,” Mr Mank suggests, are about to be revealed as highly paradoxical. Whether or not carbon pricing will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the admirable levels required under the Paris Accord, the new Canadian tax will certainly add a cost for our industries … [and, since] … Mr. Trump campaigned on pledges to rescind the U.S. commitment to the Paris Accord, to deregulate the U.S. energy industry and to look favourably upon the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. North American energy production likely will flourish if he follows through — and CO2 emissions will increase as a result … [and] … The just-announced National Energy Board review, aimed at putting environmental restrictions at the forefront of energy industry regulations in Canada, could put our companies at an even greater competitive disadvantage with U.S. counterparts. In short, we need to take a hard look at where we are headed.

childrens-crusade-groupThere has, always, it seems to me, been something of a children’s crusade aspect to the global warming/climate change campaign. Retired Canadian executive Gwynne Morgan points out, in an article in the Globe and Mail, that we, like the those 13th century children, are being misled by the green movement, including, in my opinion, by the prime minister and his environment minister, too. Mr Morgan cites three fallacies (post-truths he calls them) and then provides some facts:

Post-truth No. 1: We have the technology to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar energy

Real-world facts:

  • Fossil fuels generate more than 65 per cent of global electricity production. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars invested, wind and solar provides only 1.5 per cent of global power. You may have seen higher figures from the green-power industry, but that’s a classic post-truth distortion quoting “capacity” versus actual electricity delivered. Solar panels operate at “capacity” on a sunny summer day, less on a cloudy day and zero at night. Likewise, a wind-power farm might reach capacity on windy days, but produces nothing on calm days. At best, the average portion of wind and solar capacity producing usable electricity is in the 20-per-cent to 30-per-cent range. And that leads to another fact that green power advocates fail to mention: Because wind and solar are intrinsically undependable, they must be backed up by reliable power plants, which are almost always fossil-fuelled. The result: Consumers suffer large rate increases to pay for power they can’t depend on and then pay again to build and operate expensive standby fossil-fueled plants.
  • Fossil fuels power almost all road, sea and air transportation. And despite the advent of electric vehicles, it’s highly unlikely they will significantly impact fossil-fuel demand because of impracticality for heavy vehicles, limited range and unaffordability in the developing world where auto ownership is skyrocketing.
  • Finally, World Bank data show that fossil fuels supply 81 per cent of global energy. Almost all authoritative analyses forecast increasing fossil-fuel demand. Like it or not, all the post-truth rhetoric about wind and solar energy won’t change that reality.

Post-truth No. 2: Canada’s oil and gas industry increases global carbon emissions

Real-world facts:

  • Canada produces less than 4 per cent of the 96 million barrels a day of world oil production. If our production were completely shut down, that 4 per cent and the emissions associated with it would quickly be replaced by other countries. Moreover, carbon emissions from Alberta’s much-maligned oil sands make up a miniscule 0.15 per cent of global emissions.
  • Canadian natural gas is actually reducing global carbon emissions. Critics of the recent federal approval of the Petronas LNG project focus only on emissions associated with the Canadian portion of the project, while deliberately ignoring the overall global benefit of displacing higher carbon-emitting coal and fuel oil in China. Moreover, clean-burning natural gas produces none of the toxic particulates and sulphur compounds that are shortening the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens.
  • Natural gas is increasingly being used to fuel trucks, buses and rail locomotives. And the arrival of British Columbia’s new gas-powered ferries heralds its use in ocean transportation.

Post-truth No. 3: Canada’s carbon tax will be part of a global emissions reduction effort

Real-world facts:

  • While 111 countries represented at the November, 2016, Marrakech Climate Change conference supported a proclamation calling for “the highest political commitment to combat climate change,” the real-world facts paint a far different picture. My December column pointed out that only countries with a combined global emission share of 17 per cent had any intention of honouring that proclamation. And since none of those are significant trading partners, imposing a carbon tax to reduce Canada’s minuscule 1.6 per cent of global emissions is simply economic suicide.
  • While Canadians debate the wisdom of taxing carbon, a great many countries actually subsidize fossil-fuel use. More than one-third of the 111 countries pledging support for the Marrakech proclamation actually subsidize fossil-fuel use. International Energy Agency data show that, in 2014, fuel subsidies totalled a staggering $493-billion (U.S.). This blatant hypocrisy may help explain why U.S. president-elect Donald Trump recently labelled the United Nations as “an international body that has potential to do something good, but just isn’t living up to expectations.”

Mr Mank then takes aim at Canada’s defence budget: “A key problem,” he says, “is that we don’t currently have the resources to change our foreign and defence policy approaches in any significant way, as the Trudeau government’s 2016 budget clearly showed. Decades of pleas from diplomats and soldiers for more capacity-building have yielded only the conclusion that there isn’t more to give … [and] … Yet Mr. Trump has said that he will be looking to allies for greater security commitments — including commitments to meet the NATO defence-spending target of 2 per cent of GDP. Canada currently spends just below one per cent. Not being willing — or able — to double our defence budget will again make our “Canada is back” rhetoric ring hollow — and solidify the view that Canada is not a first-rank security partner. As a G7 country with a $2 trillion economy, Washington will see us as punching well below our weight.

The common theme is that our current, Liberal government will have two choices:

  1. Continue with their (popular, to be sure but dangerous) free spending, green and sunny ways agenda and watch, from the sidelines, as Donald Trump’s America eviscerates our economy and our standing in the world; or
  2. Break a whole hockey sock full of promises ~ many made to young Canadian voters to entice them to come out and vote and two shift their ‘natural’ allegiance from the NDP to the Liberals, too ~ and make Canada ready and able to defend it’s place as America’s premier trading partner and as a responsible, trusted ally.

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My guess is that Prime Minister Trudeau’s instinct is for the first course, but force majeure may force him to the second one, because the real world, as Gwynne Morgan calls it, in the form of President elect Donald Trump’s America is about to intrude on the Laurentian Elites’ dreams of  a nice, green, Canada, albeit a Canada that might not have a balanced budget until after 2050!

Something has to change.

The best thing to change would be the prime minister of Canada.

2 thoughts on “All bets are off”

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