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Green Shift more a wealth shift

As a person with an environmental engineering degree, I was very eager to attend Liberal party leader Stephane Dion’s town hall meeting last week to gain more information about the Green Shift. However, what I saw was less of an environmental plan and more about winning votes through wealth redistribution.

I’m sure many in the crowd loved the platitudes. After all, who doesn’t care about our children’s future? Who doesn’t want a cleaner, more prosperous country? Dion is being a demagogue and playing to people’s emotions by implying that to disagree with the lofty words is to somehow be against humanity.

We should all be skeptical when one election promise is made out to be the cure for all of society’s ills. Countries have been down that path before, and it’s been destructive to societies when they give into emotional rhetoric instead of having rational dialogue.

The Green Shift is supposed to be about reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, yet most of the meeting was spent enticing people with talk about tax cuts and expanding wasteful entitlement programs that have done nothing in the past to reduce poverty.

Dion had no problem stating a specific target for reducing poverty by using the money raised from taxing everyone on everything they need every day, but where is the target for reducing carbon dioxide? Without knowing how much CO2 will be reduced, we can’t know whether the benefit will be worth the pain of higher living expenses.

Dion has also indicated he’s in favour of carbon taxes in the short term, and cap and trade in the medium to long term. Both measures have been applied in the European Union yet there has been a complete failure to meet Kyoto targets for CO2 emissions. As of 2004, European Union countries were 4.4 per cent above 1990 emission levels, and in 2006 emission levels increased a further 0.68 per cent.

We hear all the talk about Germany being a model for wind energy, but what is ignored is that Germany is also building coal-fired power plants, because wind energy is not a stable energy source.

Germany’s only serious reduction in CO2 came from reducing steel production, but the Germans are simply buying steel from China, a nation exempt from the Kyoto accord. All the Germans did was shift production, and the last time I checked the atmosphere doesn’t notice whetherCO2comes from China or Germany. Only politicians do that, to get re-elected.

Stephane Dion is being completely disingenuous with the public. As history has shown, we all lose when governments think they are the answer to our problems. If we really want to tackle poverty, that comes from increasing opportunities for entrepreneurs to take risks and thrive, which creates jobs and raises our standard of living.

If we really want to tackle CO2 emissions, that will happen through innovation, not carbon rationing and moving production overseas. Reducing the number of environmental regulations pertaining to the construction of non-polluting and safe nuclear power plants, implementing clean-coal technologies and reducing taxes to spur research and development in our free market economy are the answer.

Christopher Reid

The Kingston Whig-Standard

30 July 2008