THE OTHER DAY I had a treacherous thought as I reviewed a report on how far away Canada is from meeting our climate targets. Where would be today if those of us who condemned the Harper governments “Turn the Corner” climate plan years ago (2007) had instead encouraged the government to implement it? It was a plan that was widely ridiculed by the environmental community because it would not result in the scale of emissions reductions that were clearly required if our country was to do its fair share to address climate change.
The Harper government responded to criticism by turning away instead of turning the corner. Not a single policy to reduce emissions was introduced at the federal level in the six years that followed. Of course hindsight is 20/20 but the basic strategic questions remain the same for those who work on environmental policy, even now that we have a federal government publicly committing to world leading climate policy. How do we encourage policy action when the scale of the problem is so much greater than the scale of change that is seen to be politically and economically feasible at any particular moment? Can we be both carrot and stick? How do we create the right amount of push and pull so that we create greater political space for ambitious action?
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