Yesterday, the woman who may soon lead one-half of the Alberta-China pollution axis made two statements on carbon emissions. The first one got the headlines and is causing hearts to race in central Canada.
“We’ve been watching the debate in the scientific community, and there is still a debate,” Smith said. “I will continue to watch the debate in the scientific community, but that’s not an excuse not to act.”
Albertans may not appreciate the harm Danielle Smith may be doing.
Substantively, she hasn’t turned herself into a “denier” by Alberta standards. They’ve long accepted that sacrifices by Albertans must be made without dead certainty on what exact share of the problem—and the solution—can be assigned to human activity. Furthermore, they must know that no conservative on either side of the aisle in the Alberta legislature or in Ottawa has a plan for oil sands development that is credible with serious climate change advocates.
In any event, it goes without saying that every serious candidate for premier of Alberta must first appear to be able to sell Alberta oil and natural gas to whomever will burn it—whatever their local emission standards might be.
Nevertheless, the actual sentiments of the next premier of Alberta on the science of climate change is of dire importance to the management of the climate change issue in the rest of Canada—and elsewhere in North America as well.
Consensus climate change policy in Ottawa, in Washington, and amongst environmental groups that participate in coaxing governments to vigorously regulate polluters insists that we know what we’re doing, that the biggest polluters, China and Alberta, in particular, get it and are taking effective action.
The less this policy asks of people in consuming jurisdictions the more it must imagine will be done upstream.
That’s why it’s more important to not think out loud on the subject in Calgary than to have any opinion at all in Toronto.