Jordan: Okay, guys, I want you to stay strong. We are so close For Better or For Worse. This will all be over soon. Yes, I’m talking about the election. But I guess I’m also talking about the climate crisis depending on who you ask Monday’s result will either decide if Canada will do anything to prevent our near certain Doom or if it will finally put an end to attacks that does nothing but harm Canadians and claim to solve a problem. That’s way too big for us. I mean, I guess there’s a middle ground somewhere in there. But this election has not been big on middle grounds at the big story. However, we are known for our nuance. And we are also well known for covering this issue.
News Clip: Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time.
You ask any Canadian like who do you think is the party that would do the most to try and save the environment? I think the green party would likely be the number one answer. The reason we care about a changing climate is because it’s a threat multiplier. It’s definitely gotten harder to maintain that Outdoor ice through the winter because you’re getting more of these thaw events the way in which people like me or governments or private actors communicate about climate change to the public is really important.
Jordan: So with one weekend left for you to decide and then go out and vote. We figured it was time to give you all the scenarios that are in between certain Doom or non-existent problem and tell you who you have to vote for to get them.
I’m Jordan, Heath Rawlings. And this is the big story Kathryn Hayhoe is our favourite guest on this issue. She is a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. She’s also a Canadian so she knows the platforms. Hi Kathryn.
Kathryn: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Jordan: No problem. Thank you for coming on to try to help us unravel this policy before we all go vote on Monday.
Kathryn: I will try to do that. But let me tell you it is a tough knot.
Jordan: Okay. Well first let me ask first of all before we get to who’s promising what and if they’ll ever deliver anything. This is the end of the Trudeau government’s first term. So what is their record on climate now that all of the facts are in like what are the results?
Kathryn: Well, their record is mixed we get a lot of press and a lot of discussion about the fact that they bought a pipeline. But what a lot of people especially in Alberta don’t realize is they have spent much more in the province of Alberta than the previous conservative government did yet they get absolutely no credit for those jobs created or anything they’ve done but the same time they have put in place the very first serious actionable climate policy that we have had at the federal level.
Just about every single Economist in the world including the two who won the Nobel Prize for economics last year agree that putting a price on carbon is the most cost-effective way to cut carbon emissions. They have done that they’re able to ratchet that price up if they get back in again, and that means that we will see serious climate action under a future liberal Administration.
Jordan: Was there anything that they promised in terms of the climate that we are still waiting for?
Kathryn: Well, I think what happened as happens to every party when they get in power is they realized that it was a little harder to accomplish some of their goals than they thought. Sometimes the provinces have jurisdiction over issues that you would like to change sometime.
There’s significant resistance has there is right now to the idea of imposing a federal price on carbon across the country. So I think there was a number of reality checks during their first term this term now that led them to not be able to meet all of their aspirations, but I think it makes them better prepared.
If they do get back in power to recognize both the limits and the potential for what they can do.
Jordan: As someone who studies a climate and understands how serious it is. What’s your impression been of the place that the climate crisis has had in the discussion in this campaign in debates in media coverage Etc.
Kathryn: Well, it’s certainly been a lot better than the place. That’s Head South of the Border. So as you know, I live in Texas
Jordan: That’s a low bar to clear.
Kathryn: Yeah. Well even during the last democratic debate where every candidate has a climate plan. There wasn’t a single question about it. So you’re right. It is a bit of a low bar but climate has been at least at least a big part of all of the discussion and we do have.
Every major party with some type of climate plan. However, the problem we have is this when you analyze the conservative plan, which energy expert Mark ducard has done the conservative climate plan with the policies that they list in their document would actually increase our carbon emissions, which is the opposite of what you want a carbon or a climate plan to do it’s like saying, You’re going to lose weight.
And here’s the diet you’re going to go on in the diet is actually going to increase your weight. It just doesn’t make sense.
Jordan: So do they claim that it will cut emissions and then the science reveals. Otherwise or is it is that in the plan that this is, you know, we’re going to slow down the pace but not necessarily cut.
Kathryn: Oh, no, they do claim that they’re going to cut emissions. And in fact, their climate plan is really nice looking. I mean when I opened it, I had High Hopes because I would like every single major party to have a solid climate plan. I was ready to say this is really good. They have all the right words.
They do they talk about all the right topics. Yep check but then when you actually do the analysis of the policy some of them accomplish exactly the opposite of what they say will happen. And so I was really disappointed because I wanted to be able to say hey for the first time in Canada. We have every major federal party with a solid climate plan and we can’t say that this election.
Jordan: Is that out there in the discussion because this is this is something so we’ve been covering the issues that rank at the top of what Canadians care about all weekend. We’re going to end with this one and a recurring theme has been. It gets talked about in buzzwords, but people don’t actually understand what’s in the platform’s does that apply to climate as well?
Kathryn: Oh 100% because again, I mean the conservatives have this really nice booklet. It has all the right words in it. It has all the right headings in it. And again, I really want to like it. But it takes somebody like I’m I’m a climate scientist myself and Mark Jacquard from SFU. He is an energy expert it takes somebody who is an energy expert actually drill down into the specific policies model their impact on our economy and tell us what the effect will be.
And so that’s why I’m so grateful. He did it and you can find that easily online. I have it in my own Twitter feed right now, or you could Google Mark Jacquard as well, that’s why we need people who are able to do that to explain to us that we’re not going to achieve our goals if we can’t actually cut our emissions.
Jordan: So when you looked through all the parties platforms, can you give me a sense of the one thing and it doesn’t have to be one but maybe we could start there of the one thing that sort of marks each of them as unique.
Kathryn: Sure, that’s a great question. So let’s start with the green party. What makes them unique is they understand the science. They have been part of the international negotiations for years even decades. They fully understand the ramifications of what must be done. They thought deeply about how to do it. And their goals are the most ambitious that would help Canada meet not only its two-degree Target under the Paris agreement, but it would give us a fighting chance no guarantees, but a Fighting Chance of maybe even are one and a half degree Target.
So we gave the Canadian green party and a plus for ambition because they are the ones who really get the science the most the NDP. We gave them an a for ambition. So they understand the science to a certain degree. But you know as NDP climate is not their main issue. It’s one of their issues.
They focus a lot on green jobs and growth. They’ve integrated into into their greater platform and they kind of present sort of a uniform holistic perspective on our economy our future that kind of Folds. Into it, I would say what characterizes the liberal platform is pragmatism. They’ve been there they’ve done it they’ve realized it’s a lot harder than anybody thought and so they are pragmatic and to be perfectly honest and I see this in my social media feed all the time this really pisses a lot of people off.
There’s a lot of people who like we need to be doing better and I’m like people. If we make the perfect the enemy of the good we will get nothing. We will get a party in power that actually increases our missions rather than decreasing them. So pragmatic is what I would call the liberal plan and then conservative I would call it lip service.
The saying all the right things absolutely, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, they aren’t just not making a difference. They’re actually possibly making the situation worse and it would be remiss not to mention the Bloc québécois and the People’s Party of Canada. So the Bloc québécois has a pretty solid climate plan.
I would put theirs on par with the NDP. The People’s Party on the other hand their plan is Let’s ignore and ridicule the science. Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist. Let’s pretend that basic physics that we’ve studied since the 1850s is somehow a matter of opinion and let’s go with fantasy over fact,
Jordan: That’s unique
Kathryn: It is but they’ve picked it up. I think from South of the Border where that method is also used by some politicians.
Jordan: You mentioned it a little bit when you were describing the perfect being the enemy of the good because my next question was going to be about strategic voting. There’s been a ton of talk of it in the last week of the campaign with liberals urging progressives to move away from the NDP or green because otherwise in their words and yours that you’ll get a party who will make things worse on climate.
How should somebody who believes that this is an incredible crisis that needs action on the level of what the green party proposes counter that
Kathryn: This is the toughest question. We have to be strategic voters because unfortunately I’ve lived in a country. Now for many years here in the US where the perfect husband made the enemy of the good such that there is no federal climate policy.
And although as a scientist, I know that every additional Giga ton of carbon. We produce carries a price as a human. I also know that every gigaton that we reduce helps us and something is better than nothing. So the projections that I’m looking at right now have the conservatives and the Liberals within point one.
Of each other. Sorry point two it’s a stunningly close tie. So I think the time to be a strategic voter is now more than ever. So I don’t want to tell anyone how to vote. It’s really an individual Choice that’s up to our own conscience. And what we feel is important, but just strategically I would say, you know, if say if you’re really concerned about climate and as a scientist I look at this every day, so I know how serious this is and I also know I would add.
That we don’t care about climate change because it’s his own Standalone issue. The reason we care about a changing climate is because it affects everything else that were voting on climate change affects our health. It affects the economy. It affects jobs National Security affects our food and our water it affects our natural resources climate change affects everything.
We already care about and that’s why it’s such an important issue. So it isn’t a single issue that we’re voting on. It is an. All encompassing issue as the US military calls it it is a threat multiplier. So that’s why it’s so important. It’s not sort of this Niche Environmental Green issue climate change is a human issue and that’s why it matters so much.
So if you live in a riding with the greens have a Fighting Chance, hey, give it to them. We need their voices in Parliament, you know, poking whatever parties in power to do more on climate. If you live in an area though is as one of my commentator said on Twitter where they vote for a donkey. If it were blue then in that case, maybe that’s a good time to vote green or vote in DP and say hey, I know that my vote is not going to change the outcome of my riding, but I want to tell you that I’m here and this is what I care about.
But if you live in a riding, which is really close between NDP and conservative or between liberal and conservative. I mean our choice there is not having the perfect our choice there is do you want to increase emissions or do you want to decrease emissions and so voting strategically is really really important.
Jordan: I’m glad that you mentioned all the areas of policy the climate touches on because one of the. Most important issues by some by some poles. It’s ranked as the most important is affordability and the cost of living and our guests who we had on earlier this week a business journalist to discuss it talked about the problem of bigger picture initiatives, like long-term healthcare plans or gigantic climate policies being really hard to quantify to voters when.
The alternative when a lot of people are struggling is like well, this will put a hundred bucks in your pocket every month. And I wonder as a scientist and someone who understands the big picture. How do you explain that to somebody who could really use that hundred bucks to make rent?
Kathryn: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and that’s part of the benefits of a price on carbon because it’s a dividend approach where we actually individually as taxpayers get money back in our pockets from a price on carbon and we have the ability to make our own decisions as to where we get our energy sources from so just just putting that out there for people who aren’t aware of that fact and if you want to understand what a carbon tax is chatelaine actually has a great explainer on it.
So just Google carbon tax and chatelaine and it will kind of explain how this works economically, but you’re right climate change is one of. Big picture issues and it is affecting just about every issue that you’ve talked about. It is affecting housing. For example, because first of all in our coastal cities like Richmond Surrey, Vancouver and Halifax, we’re seeing sea level rising.
We are also seeing especially in the east coast tropical storms getting all the way up to the maritimes, which they’ve certainly done in the past, but they’re getting up there to Stronger level with more rainfall attached to them across the whole country. Especially the southern part of the country.
We’re seeing increases in heavy precipitation events that increase our flood risk and across Canada as a whole the amount of insurance payouts in the last decade have doubled compared to the 1990s and 2000’s. Even leaving Fort McMurray fire out of it if you include that. I think it’s something more like quadrupled.
So we are seeing our insurance being hit we are seeing the security of our homes being hit climate change really is a threat multiplier and the longer we ignore it the more Peril. We put ourselves in
Jordan: You mentioned pragmatism earlier. And that gets it another one of my questions which is how do you balance when you’re choosing which parties plan if people are voting on this issue the necessary action that we need to take and the values of those plans with the probability and achievability that they might actually happen like that.
The money will come through the policy will come through never mind whether or not they’ll form government. Just like how achievable are the plans themselves.
Kathryn: Man, that’s the toughest question. So that’s why when Andrew Leach and I Andrew of course is an economist from Alberta when Andrew leached and I rated the different parties plans for chatelaine and for MacLean’s.
We rated them based on two conditions. The first was ambition, which we’ve already talked about which is very important. But II had to be feasibility because you can be as ambitious as you want. But if you can’t actually accomplish your plan, it’s not going to work out. So with starting again with the Canadian green, so we gave an A+ for ambition.
We couldn’t give them a similar grade for feasibility because a lot of the things they proposed were very difficult or impossible to be done, especially under Federal jurisdiction as opposed to provincial jurisdiction. So we had the same issue with the NDP plan A lot of the things that they propose doing would either be very unpopular with their base or counter to their own policies and other areas, like looking at jobs in industry or the federal government can’t actually do them and this that’s broke my heart because it’s a as a climate scientist.
I want an AA plan. I want to plan that has an a for ambition. And an a for feasibility and we currently don’t have that. So we had to give the greens a c-minus for feasibility. We had to give the NDP and a for ambition and a D for feasibility. And then with the Liberals we gave them a B for ambition.
We could not give them an a because they don’t they don’t aim at at the higher goal, but we did give them an a for feasibility because they’ve learned some really hard lessons and they actually understand what’s possible versus what’s not and then for the conservatives we gave them a D4 ambition because their goal is very low, but then we gave them an F for feasibility because they’re not going to accomplish their goal.
They’re actually going to go in. Opposite directions. So f is a feeling great. If you say that you’re actually going to lose weight and you put on weight. You did not accomplish a goal.
Jordan: So when you look at all these plans and the realistic possibilities of who is going to form government next week. Assuming someone does what would be the best realistic result for the environment? I’m assuming it’s like a coalition of some sort.
Kathryn: Yes, I think that that’s really almost like our secret superpowers Canadians is that because we have all of these different parties. We have different people in place who can power the ruling majority or the ruling minority in a direction a little bit further to one side of where. Their own position is and so I mean, of course, I would love to have a party that could wave a magic wand and fix all of our problems who wouldn’t but we don’t live in that world today and so my personal pragmatic choice in terms of what is actually possible. You know within our not so wild dreams would be a liberal win, but with a strong NDP and or green influence to really be beholding the liberal parties feet to the fire not letting them renege on the goals that they’ve stated and even pushing them to consider a little bit more ambition because that’s what we need at this point
Jordan: When you look at the discussion on the climate crisis over the last. I was going to say month, but it feels like this campaign has been like 4 months long. Are you happy with the amount of discourse? Are you optimistic about where the discussion is going?
Kathryn: One of the things that bothers me the most and saddens me the most and really troubles me the most of my years that I’ve spent living here in Texas is the fact that climate change for the last decade in the u.s.
So not under Trump, but all the way back under Obama. It has been one of the top most politically polarized issues in the entire United States where the number one predictor of whether people agree with the. Basic facts that we have known since the 1800s that climate is changing humans are responsible.
And as we’re increasingly aware now, the impacts are serious. And we need to act the number one predictor of whether people agree with those facts is simply where they fall on the political Spectrum as if a thermometer, somehow gives us a different answer depending on if we’re blue or red or green.
Well, unfortunately, we are seeing that political polarization creep across the border into Canada. When you ask people do you agree with the science and there’s some really interesting political polarization maps that a colleague of mine at the University of Montreal has has done looking at. How do people answer these question by writing across Canada if anybody’s looking for those I have those on my Twitter feed it shows that you know, Alberta and Southern Manitoba answer no to basic science questions.
And what’s that showing is that political polarization is dictating our opinion of the science. What we need is. We need to say yes, this thing is real. Yes, we need to fix it, but we can disagree over how to fix it. We need solid conservative plans on how to reduce carbon emissions. We need solid liberal plans.
We need solid NDP plans. We need solid green plants. We need a plethora of solid plans of how to agree to cut carbon. We don’t need political polarization over the number that a thermometer gives us.
Jordan: Thanks, Kathryn. I guess we’ll see where we land next week. Kathryn Hayhoe Canadian climate scientist living in Texas that must be fun.
You can find her Twitter at @khayhoe if you want to see those maps she talked about and you can find this episode and so many others and if you scroll down far enough, you will get to a time before this election. I promised at thebigstorypodcast.ca. And you can tell us how biased we are on Twitter at @thebigstoryfpn.
You can also find this podcast and all of the Frequency podcasts wherever you get them on Apple, on Google, on Stitcher, on Spotify. Give us 5 Stars. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. Claire Brassard is the lead producer of The Big Story. Ryan Clarke and Stefanie Phillips are our associate producers. Annalise Nielsen is our digital editor. Go vote on Monday and we’ll talk then.
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