by Leila Mechoui
Thursday, 28
July 2022
Dispatch
08:30

Trudeau is playing politics with his climate plan

The Canadian PM knows it won't pass, but it is a useful distraction
by Leila Mechoui
Credit: Getty

Canada

Given all the media attention it has received, it may be surprising to learn that Trudeau’s plan to cut nitrogen emissions by reducing fertiliser is not new — it was announced as a part of a broader climate plan in 2021. And contrary to claims made by certain outlets, the approach is very different from the Dutch plan, namely in that it does not directly target fertiliser use. Its effects on fertiliser usage, and therefore crop yield, would be indirect.

There are ongoing disputes about the emissions plan and its effectiveness. On the one hand, Fertilizer Canada, an industry group representing Canada’s fertiliser industry, calculated in a report commissioned in September 2021 that if the 30% emissions target were reached, it would lead to a 20% reduction in fertiliser usage compared to 2020 levels. The report then estimates an even greater reduction in crop yields, at an overall economic cost at $48 billion. 

Elsewhere, however, analysis conducted by academics at Guelph University found that the effects on fertiliser reduction would be far less dramatic than a 20%, and may not even result in crop reduction.

But whether or not the emissions plan is achievable (or desirable) is beside the point. What is more helpful is considering the politics and economics behind Trudeau’s plan.

First of all, there is the significant power of farmer lobbies in Canada. For example, the Department of Environment considered a tax on phosphorus fertilisers to reduce phosphorus runoffs into the Great Lakes in accordance with a 2012 Great Lakes Quality Agreement signed with the United States. But the idea was dropped due to fears of industry protest. Something similar could well be happening again, with the ‘protests’ taking the form of the usual backroom dealing that the farmer lobbies specialise in.

Then there is the challenge of provincial resistance. Provincial ministers are already quibbling about the details, most notably the premier of Saskatchewan, a major energy and wheat-producing province, who is threatening to be more assertive over provincial autonomy. This is not uncommon when the federal government proposes policy, and what will likely happen is that it will settle on the definition preferred by the provincial governments.

This occurred during the battle over last year’s requirement for a standardised national proof of vaccination, which floundered because health (and health information) is under the jurisdiction of the provinces. The provinces won, with the ‘national’ proof being simply the provincial proof with a federal seal of approval. The federal government was never given access to vaccine records.

Finally, there are the economic realities which greatly limit the scope for a radical climate policy. Despite multiple pledges and promises, greenhouse gas emissions only dropped by 1.1% between 2005 to 2009, and have actually increased since the Trudeau government signed the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

The hard economic facts is that Canada is (and always has been) a country highly dependent on raw resource exploitation. While fighting for climate change goals makes for distracting headlines to Trudeau’s deeply unpopular government, the only direction for greenhouse gas emissions is up, barring an economic recession.

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James Rowlands
James Rowlands
2 months ago

Forcing a worldwide reduction in crop yields and a rising world population that is increasingly urban.
What can possibly go wrong down the line?

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Ban everything and starve everyone; a neat solution to overpopulation. Malthus rules!?

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

“Soylent green is people!”

David George
David George
2 months ago

Jordan Peterson: Reflections on the state of Canada.
“we’re shell shocked sheep ruled by a poser with the maturity of a teenager”
https://youtu.be/6fCB8IUGdKY

john bowes
john bowes
1 month ago
Reply to  David George

possibly the dullest people on earth reside in English speaking Canada, a food shortage maybe a favour

Jim R
Jim R
2 months ago

This is yet another chance for him to get his base of woke urban elites to turn on the rural population who depend on farming and resource extraction. The very same people who lined the highways and waived their flags as the trucker convoys approached Ottawa. Soon you will hear him denouncing the farmers as racists and misogynists, and the media will happily play along. When the price of food skyrockets (again) we’ll blame it on ‘corporate greed’. It’s becoming tediously predictable.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jim R
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Canada could be quite useful to us… we could sell them Scotland and Northern Ireland for a massive sum?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago

Why ask for a ‘massive sum’? Surely it would be better to simply ‘donate’ them.

Jim R
Jim R
2 months ago

Would you consider a trade for Quebec?

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

you guys would be so f..d

john bowes
john bowes
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

Montreal is one of my favourite cities, win win.

Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
1 month ago

My country, I agree, is a disgrace.
I won’t say that Canadians are any more boring than other people; I know lots of intelligent and funny people. I can agree that we’re modest, also polite, except when the topic is hockey. It’s not the same as being boring.
Canada is substantially a failed democracy, as our Government has done a thorough job of trashing what we believed was our freedom of expression, of association, and to due process under the law. Read the story of Tamara Lich, an organizer, of our recent and very Freedom Convoy. At the hands of our order-following constabulary, egged on by our colluding nationalized press, and as rubber-stamped by a corrupted judiciary loyal to Trudeau, she was denied her right to bail on the most flimsy of grounds. Beware: this could happen in your country too, if it hasn’t already.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Turdeau… the man with 5 fathers… Mick, Keith, Bill…..

Jim R
Jim R
2 months ago

His biological and philosophical lineage is as plain as the nose on his face. Castreau. But of course he gets his mental stability from mom.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 months ago

The reason Trudeau is still the PM and likely to be re-elected is not because Canadians like or support his policies. It is because the main opposition party, the Tories, continue to be so weak, divided and far right that Trudeau appears to be the lesser of evils. Until this changes we will have to live with Trudeau trying to be the world’s leader of greenness.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

No, Canadians are not off the hook for electing three times a vindictive lying moron.

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Sorry, eh.

john bowes
john bowes
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Sadly most English speaking canadians seem to be living in a cult, there is no hope for them.