In announcing a national coal phase-out Monday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna claimed to have “a vision of a clean-growth economy.” Unfortunately, it’s a vision unaccompanied by a clear grasp of how to achieve a clean and growing economy. Instead, the move shows a government in the thrall of green activists wielding dubious statistics on the health benefits of eliminating coal, and a government that seems to think it can change the world.
The Liberal climate policy muddle runs deep. Start with the blatant contradictions over the use of carbon pricing, a hard economic concept its eco-fiscal proponents said would let the market solve the carbon emission problem. Tax it and they will stop.
That’s now a national farce, since McKenna announced that the government will instead regulate coal out of existence in most of Canada by 2030 rather than let carbon pricing do the job.
To speed the transition, the government will apply another non-market scheme and direct the new Canadian Infrastructure Bank to finance gas-fired electricity plants to replace coal. Is gas so uneconomic it needs government-backed bankers to fund it?
And then, to further undermine the carbon price mechanism, the government will amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to regulate the emissions of the new gas-fired plants that will replace Canada’s 34 coal-generating stations. Maybe the new bank is needed to cover the risk created by the carbon tax and new regulations?
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