Holding Your Nose:
Donald Trump, CPC Leadership Candidate Michael Chong and Climate Change
By Terri Chu
I tried to cry myself to sleep the night of November the 8th. Sadly for me, the tears flowed, but the sleep never came. The “not leaving the planet totally screwed” movement suffered its biggest setback in decades.
Just when things were finally looking up with the Paris climate change agreement, the world’s second largest emitter hands the presidency to a man who thinks climate science is a hoax invented by the world’s largest carbon emitter.
At the same time, Washington State, an otherwise progressive state, shot down a carbon tax - not because they didn’t want one, but mostly because they couldn’t agree on how it should be spent.
The American election leaves a lot of lessons for progressive voters everywhere.
Roughly 6 million voters who supported Obama in 2012 didn’t come out to vote for Clinton in 2016.
I get it; Clinton isn’t the standard bearer for change. Bernie Sanders tapped into a huge youth movement that wanted change. They wanted their interests, not Wall Street’s, looked after first. They wanted a higher minimum wage; they wanted secure jobs.
Clinton hardly held out an olive branch to them. She was, however, at least committed to fixing Obamacare, and she would have continued to take climate change seriously.
Clinton was despised by some but at least wasn’t advocating for the destruction of common sense. So instead of holding their noses and grudgingly supporting a candidate who would at least not undo Obama’s legacy, they decided to hold fast to their progressive principles and let the house burn down.
In Canada, many progressives held their nose and voted in whatever way they needed to to get rid of the Conservatives in the last election. We learned from the previous defeat that the only way to stop a united right was to vote strategically. We left at the wayside many great progressive voices.
With the loss of the United States as a climate change leader, Canada absolutely needs to step up to the plate. And if there is one lesson to be learned from this horrendous election it is that progress comes in baby steps, and sometimes, letting the entire house burn down to maintain our principles isn’t worth it.
Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong has released his carbon tax plan. It is arguably more aggressive than the Liberal plan. But no sooner was the plan released than self-described progressives started attacking it. It gave the appearance that taxation is bad so people feel that they shouldn’t have to pay extra to pollute. It opened the door to bringing back coal (not likely given how aggressive the carbon price was in the plan). The attacks were endless.
Let’s take a step back. This man is running for the leadership of a party that dropped the word “progressive” from its name. This man is one of the few in the party to actually acknowledge climate change as something not made up by socialists. This man is putting forward a plan to tax carbon. Hello!
Have we learned nothing? Are we going to cut up this plan because it sticks to the conservative ideology of using market mechanisms to achieve greenhouse gas reductions?
Rather, let’s praise it for acknowledging climate change. Let’s praise it for actually trying to do something.
Fighting climate change will not happen if we demand every step along the way be perfect.
Perfection is the enemy of the good. And if we aren't willing to support the good, we will forever keep on ending up with the house on fire.
Terri Chu is an expert in energy systems, with a Masters in Engineering specializing in urban energy systems. Terri founded the grassroots organization "Why Should I Care", a not for profit dedicated to engaging people on issues of public policy.