Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Is It Time We Chaperoned Our Politicians

Where Alberta Fossil Fuelers Go to Shop

Yes, Christy, this is about you - and the rest.

Christy Clark, Canada's  Queen of Cash has been known to be a grateful recipient of campaign contributions from those friendly funsters known as the Calgary Petroleum Club but, of course, that doesn't mean that her government's acceptance of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion had anything to do with cheque-stuffed envelopes.  Still, the skeptical might just wonder.

Hell, even the New York Times has taken notice of Grifty Clark and splashed her around on the pages of The Grey Lady.

It's fair to say that Canada is a nation of petro-pols. Our House of Commons is chock full of them save, perhaps, for that little lady way over there in the corner. And provincial legislatures from Newfoundland to British Columbia are also sinking under the weight of their own petro-pols.

It's timely help then from a friendly Deutscher,  Arne Jungjohann, an energy analyst from Germany.  His message - if Canada wants to make progress on climate change, if Canada's governments are remotely serious about that, they have to get fossil fuel money out of politics (and, I might add, government subsidies out of the fossil fuel industry).

There are no two ways about it, according to German political scientist Arne Jungjohann: if you want to make meaningful progress on climate change, you have to get big money out of politics.

“Then you get fossil fuel money out of politics,” said the author and energy analyst. “It’s very, very important to make this a non-partisan issue, otherwise you cannot create this stability and certainty that is needed for the investment people.”

Hold on a minute, Arnie. Fossil energy is already a non-partisan issue. Did you ever hear of the industry's latest Alberta champion, Rachel Notley? The Tories are in the fossil fuelers' bag.  So too is environmental hypocrite extraordinaire and Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau. This is already a non-partisan issue and that is the problem. 

Jungjohann offered “lessons" from the German clean energy story, also called the Energiewende. It’s the German word for the country’s clean energy transition, and Jungjohann co-wrote a book about it: Energy Democracy — Germany’s Energiewende to Renewables.

If Canada has anything to learn from Germany's Energiewende, he said, it's that corporate money must exit the equation, citizens must be involved early on, and clean energy must become non-partisan. He called it the "democratization" of clean energy.

What works in Germany won't work in Canada. At the federal and the provincial level our fossil energy corruption is now institutionalized, embedded.


Toby said...

Governments always have policies on energy, transportation, health, labour, etc. Politicians frequently take the easy way and policies wind up being the result of doing nothing or continuing to do what we have always done. The nature of public service is such that it is relatively easy for big money to nudge policies in one direction or another. Given enough time and money those nudges can accumulate into very big shoves.

Mound, I agree with your concluding statement that "our fossil energy corruption is now institutionalized, embedded." This is an example of the worst kind of corruption, legalized, entrenched and pretty much out of sight. Most Canadians don't see it at all. If our governments were to remove the subsidies there would be screams from everyone as their fuel costs rose to world standards. To demand that fossil energy extractors clean up their own messes at their own expense would result in reactionary upheaval in every government in the country. The Americans might even send in the Marines to save us.

The Mound of Sound said...

How do we get out of this, Toby? I agree that the public will to change course, to largely give up fossil energy, is almost non-existent. As the article notes, Germany was able to begin switching to renewables during the reunification of East and West.

Perhaps we're hostage to the realities of Confederation. Most clean energy is mechanical, manufactured. It works to the advantaged of industrial-base provinces and could shift wealth out of the resource-provinces, especially in the West. That sort of transfer of economic and associated political power from the West where grievance of all things East remains simmering is something no federal leader would be willing to embrace.

I know how pessimistic this will sound but over the past couple of years and especially in recent months I've come to suspect that, as a people, we're largely prepared to lay down and die. Yet, as Jared Diamond chronicles in "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail," when a society turns nihilistic the outcome soon follows.

Toby said...

Mound, I think Naomi Klein got it right; global warming will change everything. Will Canada survive as the state we now know it as? It doesn't look good. The pressures may lead the Americans to assume their "manifest destiny" and fully take over North American. They have always wanted Canadian territory, always treated as theirs. (To a great extent, the corruption of Canadian politicians has involved American money.)

Another possible scenario is that both countries break and reform as smaller units; think Cascadia. BC and Alberta might as well be on different planets when it comes to most issues. When I think of it, in other parts of the world the Rocky Mountains would be a natural boundary. That Canada and the US cross the mountains is a testament to our respective forefathers.

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby, that's like saying that cancer cures smoking.

That said, I would sooner see my part of this country go its own way than to see Canada continue on this devastating path.

As for Naomi Klein, I bought her book and she's a latter day wind bag who sees a book and a documentary (for Avi) in it. Like her Leap Manifesto there's a lot of noise but precious little substance.

Toby said...

Yeah, I agree; Klein is a windbag. However, I do think that global warming will change everything. The science has been telling us that for 50 years. Kline just coined the phrase.

Yes, I'm pessimistic.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, global warming will change everything. That's already begun.