To help the PM in his climate fight, go out and buy an electric car
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I once worked for a guy (no names) who had a hard time saying ‘no.’
No, not that kind of ‘no,’ this kind of ‘no’: “We know your department has too much on its plate,” the other managers would say, “but we really need this done.” And my boss, who didn’t have to do any of the work himself, would say: “No problem. Leave it to us.” (Have you ever noticed, when the year-end bonuses are handed out, the “us” is missing and there is only one name on the cheque?)
I showed up at work the next day to find we had this new assignment. I looked at my co-worker (yup, only two of us in that department) as if to say, “What’s this?” And he looked at me with a wry grin on his face. “Ker-A-A-C-C-K-K,” he said, imitating the sound of a whip. He didn’t have to say more.
It was a time when that awful expression, “Doing more with less,” was rearing its ugly head. That was when senior management would meet and make decisions that impacted negatively on the employees who really did the work.
Those decisions should never be thrown around lightly. Whatever is being asked has to be possible, and seen as being possible, and that brings me to the subject of today’s column: Canada’s greenhouse-gas-reduction commitment.
Last month, at an international climate summit organized virtually by U.S. President Joe Biden, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, looked into a camera and intoned that Canada will reduce emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Then he left for lunch in a Chevrolet Suburban, which is a gas guzzler. For an instant, the PM reminded me of my old boss: Ker-A-A-C-C-K-K!
Now, most of the greenhouse gases enveloping the planet today come from carbon dioxide (C02 is produced many ways but a big contributor is you and me breathing. You can help by planting a tree, which inhales what we exhale). The other gases are made up of methane and a few others (most methane comes from farming).
Which brings us to energy. According to the government, combustion at power plants, transportation, refining and oil and gas extraction make up most of the energy segment. And that’s where the big changes are going to come.
A stricter clean-fuel standard to drive down the intensity of emissions and a carbon price that will increase (by 2030, remember) from $40 per tonne to $170 per tonne (more than four times) will drive down the demand for oil, they say.
You had better believe it. Gasoline will cost $2 per litre. Soon. Before you know it. You know how people say, “We can never get ahead?” Well, they’d better get ready for the big slide backwards after all of this stuff kicks in. Do you think your food or anything else that’s trucked in is going to cost less? Don’t faint when you see your next gas and water bill, all of which require energy to produce and deliver. (That’s why the government, when I filled out the census, wanted to know how much we spend on those things. Now they’ll know how deep we’re in the hole when the next census arrives.)
But I’m not here to start an argument. I’m not here to take any more shots at the prime minister. I’m here to say that we’re all in this together and we should prepare to give it our best shot. He might not be No. 1 on my personal hit parade but he is my captain and I owe him my allegiance as long as he’s in charge.
I am sending a message here. Go out and trade in that fossil fuel-burning vehicle of yours and buy an electric one. It’s time. Local auto dealers will be happy to make you a deal because they will just load yours up with a bunch of other internal-combustion vehicles and ship them south to the U.S. where the move toward electrification is trailing ours. They will make a good buck doing this. (And since there’s a shortage of semiconductor chips at the moment, and auto production is trailing, they’ll also be very happy just to take your order.)
I do not want a subsidy to purchase an electric vehicle. I am used to paying for my own cars. But since Ottawa is using me to tell the world that the country will punch above its weight in the fight against climate change, I think I should get something.
So, I want the federal government to have a top-of-the-line electric vehicle charger installed at my house. And at the house of one son in Toronto, the condo of another son and at my daughter’s house in Kingston. And everybody else in the country who purchases an electric car or truck too, of course. I might have to pay for it up front (as would all others), but I should be able to file an expense claim with the government and get a cheque back within a month.
One good turn (ker-A-A-C-C-K-K!) deserves another. If we all go electric, we’ll hit that 40 to 45 per cent target without breaking a sweat. But it depends on those chargers. Otherwise, all bets are off.
Note to readers: Last week’s column was being printed before we could update it to include the province’s Thursday, May 14, announcement that it was extending its stay-at-home order from May 20 to June 2.
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