Look back just over a decade, and you find then-Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper advocating climate policies that make the country’s current pricing strategy look pale by comparison, Toronto Star business columnist David Olive notes in a recent dispatch.
Just after its first election victory in 2006, the Conservative government laid out a number of ideas for countering climate change. Among them, Olive recalls, was a carbon price on all industrial emissions that would have had some teeth: $65 per tonne by 2018, compared with Trudeau’s $10-per-tonne floor price for that year.
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The same plan, titled Turning the Corner, would have required any new tar sands/oil sands facilities built after 2012 to use carbon capture and sequestration or other techniques to slash their greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, the sector has been the fastest-growing contributor to Canada’s overall emissions.
Perhaps spooked by the 2008 financial crash, Harper’s government reversed course, and spent the rest of its rule actively resisting action on climate and dismantling environmental protections.
Olive applauds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Pan Canadian Climate Framework as “among the world’s most comprehensive plans for curbing global warning.” Nonetheless, he writes, “for environmentalists and economic strategists, it’s worth returning to those [earlier] goals.”
They might even help the nation exceed its current emissions targets—also adopted from the Harper government.