GOLDSTEIN: Governments can’t change the weather, but we can adapt


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Of the two strategies for addressing climate change – mitigation and adaptation – adaptation is much more important to Canadians.


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Even if Justin Trudeau becomes the first Prime Minister in Canadian history to meet a federal target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – what mitigation means – it won’t matter, if not. ‘is symbolically.

Canada, responsible for 1.52% of global emissions according to the World Resources Institute, is too small a player.

What matters is what countries like the world’s three largest emitters do – China (26.1% of global emissions), the United States (12.67%) and India (7.08 %) -.

China alone burns more coal each year – the most carbon dioxide-intensive fossil fuel – than the rest of the world combined.

It emits more greenhouse gases each year than all the countries of the developed world combined.

Its emissions from coal are expected to increase by 9% this year compared to 2020.


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According to the International Energy Agency, China, the United States and India are burning so much coal in an attempt to get out of the global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that coal emissions could reach their highest level ever this year.

Globally, total fossil fuel emissions from coal, oil and natural gas in 2021 are expected to be the second highest on record.

The highest level on record was in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit in 2020.

Last year saw a significant but temporary drop in emissions which are now on the rise.

Trudeau’s carbon tax, which will increase 25% on April 1 of next year to $ 50 per tonne of emissions, from $ 40 per tonne currently, will have no impact on that.

Ditto by increasing its carbon tax to $ 170 per tonne by 2030 and imposing a second carbon tax called the clean fuel standard next year.


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Canada’s massive carbon tax allows Trudeau to lecture other countries about climate change without being hypocritical, but its impact on climate change is insignificant.

Even if every country on the planet met the emissions targets they submitted to the United Nations, the impact on the climate – and in particular severe weather events – would not occur for decades, due to the length of time emissions remain in the atmosphere.

The climate we have now is the climate we will have for decades to come, even if Canada achieves “net” emissions by 2050.

This is why adaptation to climate change is important.

There will always be severe weather events caused by climate change – whether the source is natural or human-induced – and adapting to them is critical due to the increasing damage it is causing in part due to the increase population densities.


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This means building infrastructure that is resistant to hurricanes, floods, fires, heat waves and cold waves.

This means upgrading building codes to withstand inclement weather.

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This means sound planning policies limiting development along the coasts and in floodplains and proper management of forests vulnerable to fires during droughts.

We ignore these realities at our peril.

A carbon tax will not stop the flooding in British Columbia that has been going on for more than a century.

Maintaining your dike system well, which has not been done, will help reduce the damage.

The Trudeau government announces that it will announce its climate mitigation plan in March and its climate adaptation strategy in fall 2022.

What matters most when it comes to the lives of Canadians is adapting to climate change, not the pipe dream that federal and provincial governments can control the weather with taxes.



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