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Ambition Without Means
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March 15, 2017
Inroads Journal
Thomas C. Schelling

Barely a month after Canada’s new Liberal government took office, senior government officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, flew to Paris to participate in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as Paris 2015. The government committed itself to the the international climate policy framework coming out of that conference, and its climate policy manifesto, Canada’s Way Forward on Climate Change (climatechange.gc.ca ), makes clear that it is “committed to working with international partners to reach an ambitious climate agreement.”

The two main policy initiatives in the manifesto are putting a price on carbon and investing in clean energy and technology. But how effective will these initiatives be in actually resolving the problem of climate change?

International partnership

Paris 2015 ended on an optimistic note. Most countries, Canada included, went away happy – some even believing that they had accomplished something. To add icing to the cake, recent global emissions reports, defying predictions, indicate that in 2015, as in 2014, global emissions had stabilized. BP Energy Statistics reported in early June that world carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use had grown only 0.1 per cent over 2014, even though world consumption of energy grew by 1 per cent and global GDP is estimated to have grown by 3 per cent. Developments in 2015 gave a huge boost to the hope that the world is beginning to decarbonize – not just some developed nations.


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