Green Foreign Aid

This week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named former broadcaster Peter Kent to his cabinet and handed him the environment portfolio and an excuse to wear more green ties. However, it is time that we consolidated much of the environment ministers duties under the CIDA minister.

The environment portfolio is a defensive one for any government that labels itself “conservative” because parties and advocates to the left of it will always say that the government isn’t doing enough on whatever the latest planet-saving project may be.

Conversely, critics on the right have complained that the linking of CO2 climate change too easily links human production and economic activity to a global tax that would invariably increase and either stall production, drastically alter it, and/or spin off a number of unintended consequences. Indeed, what better socialist innovation than to directly link a method of state revenue generation to something so basic to life and activity?

Today, it was reported that Kent explained that the Alberta oil sands represent “ethical oil” compared to the alternatives and is fighting the same battle against the anti-progressives (small subjective p) as his predecessors. Environment as a portfolio, has risen in prominence from an activist one in previous decades to a top job in a Prime Minister’s cabinet; the recent rise correlated to the increase in pitch and fever of climate change as an issue.

However, we already have a Natural Resources minister. The significant environmental debate and the one that receives the most coverage is that of Canada’s contribution to climate change and halting our progress and development of the natural resource that is the oil sands. Indeed, at international climate change conferences Canada is seen by green activists to be stalling on curbing emissions with the excuse that developing nations such as China and India aren’t acting likewise to curb emissions.

If Canada is to halt its progress, curb emissions, deliver aid to others and subsidize foreign industry, it is essentially delivering green foreign aid.

International development is the role of Canada’s CIDA minister. Natural resources such as the oil sands are the role of the Minister of Natural Resources. Environment, as it stands, has become more politically driven and obnoxiously lobbied than policy driven and with real-world effect.

If we are to help other countries adapt to changing climates, there’s a government department for that. We should move the climate change element of the environment portfolio under CIDA. If CIDA has a fixed budget in aiding the developing world, Canadians will place higher value on providing tangible help to suffering people rather than trying to succeed at the seemingly impossible and futile task of keep the climate in a fixed state.

About one million children die of malaria in Africa each year. Perhaps the greatest affliction to the human condition is malnutrition. Both can be linked to climate, but this is about as revealing to say that we are all affected by our environment. If all of government has a fixed budget, when we look at all aid through the proper lens, perhaps we will provide more direct benefit to those in other countries than huffing and puffing about slight variations in global temperatures.

Calling foreign aid by its true name will actually bring more Canadians onside to the issue. Telling us that the sky is falling only distracts and creates cynicism. At worse, it de-emphasizes a real problem. Bringing environment under CIDA would focus our attention on doing the most with our development budget.

Most importantly, pairing CIDA’s efforts with the much more effective global poverty alleviation activities of the international trade minister by opening markets, liberalizing trade and increasing the size of the global middle class, we can do much better than thinking that wearing green ties, and pushing money, paper, and fossil awards around can change the weather.



  • B. V. Done

    Great post. “Move Environment to CIDA” – #climatechange & #capandtrade
    is about wealth re-distribution; #cdnpoli

  • Klem

    “If we are to help other countries adapt to changing climates” Why should we do that? The idea that drivng an SUV causes bad weather in other countries is a falacy. Let other countries take care of themselves. We’re not their keepers.

    “About one million children die of malaria in Africa each year”. That’s right and it is an outrage. Do you know that every single wind turbine costs roughly $3 million? That represents 600,000 malaria mosquito nets at $5 each. We could reduce the number of malaria deaths to near zero if we bought malaria nets rather than just 10 of those rediculous spinning monuments to the environmental left. I don’t know how the left can sleep at night.

    Environmentalists are truly environ-mental.

  • Anonymous

    Oh Stephen. This just doesn’t hang together. It isn’t even good propaganda. It’s bound to blow up on you, just like the Deep Horizons offshore well… or the Horizons oilsands. (Coincidence?)

    First, the post title. “Green Foreign Aid”. Um, what’s not-green foreign aid? Helping developing countries build SUVs? A campaign to burn more forests? For the little foreign aid we do, it can’t help but be green already, or at worst, neutral. Reducing poverty, providing improved health care, improving nutrition, fostering sustainable development… all of these cause a reduction in the need for extreme or destructive coping and intervention strategies, which automatically brings reduced ecological (and economical) impact. Any meaningful foreign aid is already “green”. If you are actually advocating that Canada should provide MORE foreign aid, I am 100% behind you.

    Thanks for including the canard that anything to do with moderating energy consumption or reducing pollution is automatically socialist or a regressive tax ploy. I am puzzled why the right wants to shut Canada out from all the business opportunities in alternative energy or energy management, but that’s your problem.

    Twice, you imply that putting the brakes on oil-sands output is halting Canada’s “progress”. What progress, exactly, do you mean? Technical progress? I suppose… although better regulation and even a modest moderation of our current oil output would be a greater incentive for more efficient and greener oil-sands technologies, as well as a boost to alternative energy technologies and efficiencies.

    (Ah, I should be calling it “ethical” oil …sorry Peter, Ezra. Except it’s sold for the same price, and consumed with the same reckless abandon, as “despot” oil. And it hasn’t stopped Canada from still buying vast quantities of “despot” oil. Some ethics.)

    Back to “progress”. Economic progress? You have to be joking. We’re ripping up Alberta and selling that tarsand oil as fast as we possibly can, at current market prices… yet the Alberta and Canadian governments still have budget deficits? WTF? This oil is Canada’s treasure, yet Canada, long term, is not really profiting from its sale. Only the Americans (and oil companies) are benefiting, and that’s by Harper’s design, but that is another rant for another time.

    National progress? I’d agree… if the income from oilsands export was reducing our deficits, or being sensibly reinvested in improving Canada’s infrastructure, better education, developing new industries that don’t depend on having a bunch of dead dinosaurs in your back yard… But that’s not happening. National progress has stalled, as this governments (in)actions on the development front cement Canada’s second-class status as merely a source of cheap raw resources (and the home of staid but dependable banks).

    As a declared anti-progressive, maybe you should leave the “progress” thing to others.

    But these are incidental points. The biggest problem with your suggestion to push climate-change issues to CIDA is that it completely ignores the problems within our own borders, and within our control. You don’t mention the horrible mess currently being left by tarsands development. Anyone banking their pennies for the day when we have to clean that up? Most damning – Canadians, per-capita, are about the world’s largest consumers of energy. It’s not that we necessarily want to be, but despite being the home to a world leading transportation innovater like Bombardier, Canada’s own investment in efficient mass transportation is pitiful. If Mayor Ford is any indication, Conservatives don’t have clue #1 about mass transit. So hell yeah we need an environment minister, and there’s lots for him to actually do, besides just pretending they’re doing something.

    From the Bible, Matthew 7:5 : Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

    How can we have any international credibility on energy issues if we won’t clean up our own act first?

  • Anonymous

    “If we are to help other countries adapt to changing climates” Why should we do that?

    Oh, I dunno… maybe because we caused it to change (some, more, faster)? Or maybe we haven’t. Let’s for arguments’ sake agree that human activity is not altering the climate, ok?

    There are still thousands of GOOD reasons to use all our resources more sensibly. Just a few:
    – to reduce the pollution from fossil-fuel production and consumption – air, water, land
    – reducing the effect of energy resources as a source of political tension (y’know – like Saudi’s funding terrorism… guess where their money comes from; care about that at all?)
    – oil has many other IMPORTANT uses besides just moving your car back and forth: plastics? medicine, industrial chemicals, paint?
    – the fact that Canadians currently use more energy per-capita than just about anyone else? Making us vulnerable…
    – the FACT that oil is a finite resource, and the thought that if we maybe pulled back a bit, it might last a bit longer

    But the right have this monster strawman called climate change, and you’ve decided that all you have to do is to stick one arrow into climate-change and that successfully removes ANY rationale for taking action regarding energy consumption. Bravo, morons.

    Canada is still a rich country. We can easily afford to send 6000,000+ mosquito nets to Africa, AND stick up a few wind generators.