Hard decisions to be made about CO2 emissions this October

As the election cycle nears Oct. 19 there is, and will be, an increased intensity of political rhetoric and misinformation. The coming election will prove to be pivotal in the policies of Canada for years to come and it is essential that we all make our decisions based on common sense and fact which seems to be in short supply nowadays.

The constant attack/demonization on/of Canada and the Conservative government regarding our efforts in climate change are part of the rhetorical misinformation campaigns that are currently being spread. Canada is not likely to meet the Copenhagen Accord (few nations are), but has made progress on lowering CO2 emissions regardless. Under the Conservative government emissions have fallen 5.1 per cent while the economy has grown 10.6 per cent, our per capita CO2 production has fallen from 17.4 tonnes per person to 14.7 tonnes per person (the first government in the history of Canada to have reduced CO2 emissions) and our global contribution has gone from two per cent to 1.5 per cent. These are achievements to be proud of and to build upon.

Obviously Canada has not solved the CO2 emission issue, but to say that nothing is being done is nonsense. The Green Party would shut our energy industry down and, certainly, so would the core base of the NDP thinking that they would be saving the planet. If only that were true.

The production of global CO2 has never been about production. It has been about consumption. If consumption diminishes, then the oil sands and all oil production could be discontinued. In our own country, in addition to the carbon footprint left by the production and use of vehicles, the heating of our homes and the global shipping of produce and mercantile, there are many other products that make a carbon footprint from the oil sands.

How many of you know that the oil sands are a major ingredient in paving across North America? Recently, a road infrastructure was rebuilt in front of my office. The new water main that was buried has “made in Alberta” stamped on it (quite obviously a product of the oil sands) and every day I walk on repurposed oil sands while crossing the road (the new paving). There is an endless list of products and services that, currently, can only be supplied by oil. There is a lot of difficulty in reducing consumption.

If we shut down Canada’s carbon-based energy sector, we are still going to need oil and it is going to come from somewhere. China, India and the U.S. (the major oil consumers) are going to get their product from somewhere.

If our energy sector is dismembered Canadians will need to replace the 10 per cent government revenue lost (all levels), the three per cent GDP and over 514,000 jobs (802,000 by 2028, many of which would employ indigenous people). Green jobs are not going to replace all of

that, nor is the world going to have a reduced CO2 production.

Canada should be a major global supplier of oil because we are one of the most progressive nations on earth, certainly among the major oil producers. In fact, the oil sands, over the last 20 years, have reduced their CO2 emissions by 30 per cent. Venezuela and Saudi Arabia don’t give any thought to reducing their emissions related to oil production. Should Canada discontinue our production so they can ramp up theirs?

The Conservative government is choosing the most responsible manner to reduce our, and the world’s, dependence on fossil fuels through the development of better emission standards from automobiles, a moratorium on CO2 producing coal plants and investment in green technologies (Canada now invests the fifth most in the world). We are generations, if ever, from becoming free from an oil based economy. Driving us all into poverty would lower our CO2 emissions, but would not contribute to the well-being of humanity and the global reduction of CO2.

This fall I hope voters truly consider what is being told to them and realize that this is an important election for many reasons. Your choice at this October’s election has the potential to reduce Canada to economic ashes and still not reduce global CO2 emissions. Vote wisely.

Martin Barker Nomination Candidate Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Conservative Party