San Pedro Sula I don’t associate Canada with cynicism, quite the opposite. Reading a new book, The Petroleum Papers, that included in its focus an emphasis on the role that the Canadian tar sands has played in our worsening climate, made it a little harder to ignore the political and economic deals with the devil that Prime Minister Trudeau made with the industry in approving pipelines and depots, while puffing up cap-and-trade and regulatory action as the solutions. ACORN has been able to shrewdly access some of the cap-and-trade money for housing retrofits for members, but greenwashing is greenwashing, no matter how slick the soap. We have to represent our members, particularly after Ontario Premier Ford vetoed the retrofit money almost as soon as he walked in the door several years ago. The cabal between the polluting industries and our governments is hard to break, and we all live in this world, doing the best we can.
There may be a couple of things that governments are doing that might make a difference, even if it’s a long way from a solution. One involves the Biden administration and the other the European Union, and both are controversial.
Biden’s Build Back Better has earmarked billions as incentives to bring back jobs and production to the United States. Free traders, globalists, and Europeans are crying foul and claiming this is a form of protectionism and unfair to others. Maybe, but every dog has its day, and they have been barking for way too long. Besides the salutary impact of protecting American jobs at living wages, there are climate pluses in this program. The supply chain has huge emissions and carbon negatives. Shipping alone always makes the top ten as a pollution source. Cutting all of this back a notch is a huge win.
Perhaps even larger is a path breaking move by the European Union. They announced an agreement to impose a tax on imports based on the greenhouse gases emitted to make them, inserting climate-change regulation for the first time into the rules of global trade. Admittedly, we are more an importing than an exporting nation now, but exporting is still a huge slice of our economy, whether tech or manufacturing. Forcing American businesses to calculate correctly their emissions and applying a cost to bad actors will absolutely get their attention, and in some cases make them uncompetitive, unless they clean up their act. Furthermore, we’re not the only ones, since this rule will apply to all products and countries that are importing into the EU market, and that includes China as well as other countries who have too long been part of the race-to-the-bottom strategy of cutting costs on controls, labor, safety, and just about everything else.
There will be a lot of finger pointing and loud talk, and, given that a lot of this is about politics and money, see my earlier comment on Canada and Trudeau, there will probably be some backsliding and wheeling-and-dealing before we see the potential impacts, but for a change all of this could make a big difference. Climate is becoming central to the business and government DNA, not just a press release and a sop to the masses, and that’s a good thing.