A September climate change gathering guarantees more alarmism and self-destructive plans, consumer advocate fears
As the spawn of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit can only mean “bad news for everybody” — both farmers and consumers alike — argues longtime consumer advocate Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy.
The September New York summit is expected to make hay out of a longstanding Paris allegation that agriculture accounts for 17 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Climate action” is one of several “sustainable development goals” established for the coming confab.
In Canada, climate action on behalf of the UN boils down to carbon taxes or other cost-raising policies imposed by the Trudeau government.
Replying that consumers are already “running for their lines of credit” amid inflationary grocery price increases, McTeague says the upcoming session — if motivated by the same international group-think seen to date — will only produce more sticker shock at the checkout aisle. “Emphatically, when you hit farmers with significant carbon taxes, which they can’t rebate, when you have those costs passed on in terms of transportation, it makes a bad situation that much worse,” warns the former Liberal MP and one-time Consumer Affairs critic.
“I do worry about any type of summit that might be akin to what we heard from the leaders of the World Economic Forum, which is, ‘You’ll eat less meat, you’ll not own property and you’ll be happy,’” he says.
McTeague says he’s “gravely concerned” about policy prescriptions coming out of such conferences. But he’s even more worried about the twisting of the message by “bad news bears” in service to an alarmist agenda. He cites the latest book by former U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Stephen Koonin — member of the Obama administration — which reports that the International Panel on Climate Change has projected major net growth for the world economy by 2100 even if nothing is done about man-made global warming. The economy will still be several times larger than it is today, even taking into account a 3 per cent negative impact the IPCC sees if indeed the planet is three degrees warmer 80 years from now.
“But suddenly you see people deliberately misinterpreting (the International Panel) to say without a move on climate change, we will have an existential threat — which equals higher costs for everything, and this allows companies to pile on,” he complains, calling out the insurance industry and “hucksters” attempting to profit from fear.
The doomsaying urge is not new, he says, comparing the current obsession to the alarm spread about an impending “population bomb,” planetary starvation and peak oil in the 1970s — none of which happened. Even the oft-repeated vegan message about a certain number of pounds of grain being necessary to produce one pound of meat is recycled from the days of bell-bottom pants.
“I think it’s time we have a — let me use a trendy word — ‘conversation’ in this country about what has been accomplished” through the decades up till now, he says, pointing to technological advances that have improved outputs and yields while encouraging conservation “before it was vogue or trendy.”
But the voices of doom, he says, “can’t handle the fact that with technology, and proper stewardship … we’ve been able to not only increase per acre production of just about everything, we’ve done so while keeping prices in check.”
The federal government has pledged not only ‘net-zero’ carbon output by 2050 but the halving of emissions by the end of this decade as well — and McTeague scoffs at the notion of carbon-free food production in the near or long term. “Last time I checked it’s not very efficient to impose a carbon tax on the diesel used by trains and tractors to harrow, plow, seed and get the product to market,” he says.
“I think we’ve got to stop being two-faced about this…. I don’t know how many acres of Saskatchewan can be plowed using a couple of batteries … This is a cold country, this is a big country, and the density of energy of a fossil fuel is significantly better than anything that can be stored in a battery, until someone can bend the laws of physics.”
He points out that the economic slowdown — and pain — endured by Canadians in these last 18 months corresponded with a mere 6 to 7 per cent reduction in the country’s carbon emissions. Just imagine the wreckage of pursuing a 50 per cent drop by 2030 — equivalent to a seven-fold factor increase in the financial misery of the pandemic. McTeague says it’s tantamount to completely shutting the economy by decade’s end. “So we all sit at home and watch TV, but have no food because there wouldn’t be anything available.
“I don’t think that’s on,” he adds. “I don’t think the federal government has another 10 trillion dollars.” It’s time,
McTeague says, to “shake the heads of folks out there who are frankly numb to reality and coming up with these ideas because they’re either bored or convinced to look at a certain thing in very narrow, definable ways without taking into account something we call ‘reality.’”
He bemoans how his own political party, the Liberals, have become “a cult,” leaving himself and a handful of old-time Grits as heretics on the carbon issue. The party is now “really very much the plaything of virtue signalling, of identity politics, and completely given over to destructive policies like the Green Energy Act here in Ontario,” he asserts.
“The Liberal Party is not, in any way shape or form even a shadow of its former self,” he says, recalling how the Chretien Liberals used to care deeply about pocketbook issues affecting Canadians. “My party was also quick to point out the importance of our agricultural sector, our energy sector, and in all of our work, to try to and ways to improve that.”
Carbon dioxide is an inert, crucial gas for all life on the planet and is not a pollutant, argues McTeague. “I think we should be celebrating CO2 and celebrating the fact that we have done so much to feed a world that has grown, doubled the population in 40 years, and there doesn’t seem to be a disconnect between our ability to meet those obligations.”
“If what people are suggesting is somehow that we should be punishing ourselves and be punitive, over very, very suspicious science — and I call it that — that somehow what farmers are doing is leading to an existential crisis to civilization, I think we have to be very careful not to go down that fear-mongering and unsubstantiated form of hysteria. Because I’m seeing a lot of it.”