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GREENINGS: Choosing the lesser evil (Election Special 2018)

May 29th, 2018 · 3 Comments

Assessing the parties through an environmental lens

At the risk of sounding like a single-issue voter, it will be no surprise to anyone who has read any of my columns that the environment ranks high. There are lots of other issues, such as healthcare, debt, economic growth, but all that is moot as we stare mass extinction in the face. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, you aren’t paying attention. Before his death, Stephen Hawking gave humanity another two centuries before we’re toast. To me, the long-term survival of our species trumps any short-term issue we are facing at the moment, no matter how pressing it might seem.

The Liberals have come up with a number of good ideas in the environmental department, but execution leaves a lot to be desired.

The Progressive Conservatives under Patrick Brown’s leadership actually had a promising platform. They acknowledged climate change and would have followed the federal carbon tax rules. That was at least a start. His actions however were not becoming of a premier, or anyone in a position of leadership.

Doug Ford has reversed his promise to open up the Greenbelt to development. It’s a good thing he’s abandoned these short-sighted and ridiculous plans — you don’t fix the housing crisis by creating a food crisis.

How much farmland do we reduce down to before we realize we can’t feed ourselves? The Greenbelt isn’t just uninhabited tundra, it’s some of the most fertile farmland in the world.

We don’t need more McMansions on top of productive land. We need higher density in areas we have already inhabited. We need to put homes where people don’t need to get in their fossil-fuel-powered boxes and expel carbon dioxide in order to get to work or buy a carton of milk.

The policy reversal was a good step, but refusal to take on carbon pricing tells me he’s stuck in a model of growth at all costs. Extinction is too high a cost.

The Liberals have come up with a number of good ideas in the environmental department, but execution leaves a lot to be desired. Carbon tax is great, cap and trade, meh. Better than nothing.

They have recycling fees that are so pathetically low it makes no sense, but at least it’s there on items like electronics. The environmental fee they tried years ago was a fantastic idea, but the execution was so bad it didn’t last.

I’m very happy about the renewable energy capacity increase in the province, less so about our management of it. While not entirely the Liberals’ fault, they should have known the underlying issues and started trying to deal with them. When it comes to transit, I will never forgive them for giving Rob Ford the hammer he needed to reopen Scarborough subway.

While it is easy to criticize those in power, I actually couldn’t tell you what the New Democratic Party platform is without looking it up.

Upon investigation, there was some poetic waxing about a better environment, renewable energy that will be integrated responsibly (I don’t know what that means), but the thing that really stood out to me was a 30 per cent reduction in hydro rates. WHAT? We want to make it cheaper to use electricity when so much of it still comes from fossil fuels? WHAT?

I thought only the Liberals were nonsensical enough for this. Few details exist on the NDP’s website for me to make any determination at this point, but perhaps things will become clear.

The Greens are the closest to my heart. They want to axe Catholic schools so we don’t have redundant buses on the same route, and they want to let the city toll the Gardiner and DVP. They want to collect carbon fees, phase out internal combustion engines, and give incentives for energy efficiency.

They are after my own heart. It’ll be expensive, everyone will hate them for it, and we won’t be able to waste energy willy-nilly like we do right now without it costing a LOT.

I love this party, but let’s be honest, Schreiner’s not going to be premier.

Whoever sits in the premier’s office, I wager it will be a minority. I would love to see a handful of Green Members of Provincial Parliament elected so they can start to have meaningful influence over public policy.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.

 

READ MORE BY TERRI CHU:

GREENINGS: Reduce, reuse, and then recycle (May 2018)

GREENINGS: Car-free parenting is not rare (Spring 2018)

GREENINGS: The science of board games (Mar. 2018)

GREENINGS: Driving fuelled by unseen subsidies (Jan. 2018)

GREENINGS: No solutions for nobody’s problem (Dec. 2017)

GREENINGS: Celebrate science not milestones (Nov. 2017)

GREENINGS: Down to the data (Oct. 2017)

GREENINGS: Reducing paper waste (Fall 2017)

GREENINGS: Taking tolls to the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway (July 2017)

GREENINGS: Lessons from Madrid (June 2017)

GREENINGS: Thoughts on hitting the 400 benchmark (May 2017)

GREENINGS: Solving the food waste problem (April 2017)

GREENINGS: Kellie Leitch was right (March 2017)

Tags: Annex · Columns

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