The new carbon economy

Our recent series of carbon stories, coverage of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan’s Prairie Carbon Summit and my last week’s column seem to have sparked a few of you to reach out to me.

That’s what we like at The Western Producer, and I know that APAS’s goal was also to inform and involve prairie farmers. So, good-on-ya, as they say Down Under, where they abandoned carbon taxes but kept market-based carbon pricing that farmers can sell.

I received several emails, phone calls and a few texts that suggested our coverage failed to discuss whether climate change is real.

In my mind that would be like wading into a slough to find out how deep it is. Does it really matter? It’s still a slough and unless I have a drainage permit, I can’t change that.

However, if it’s big enough, I could irrigate from it, and that is how we need to approach carbon taxes and pricing going forward.

The war over climate change and global warming is over. So continuing to encourage skirmishes is not time or money well spent for Canadian farmers. Best to focus on creating public policy that mitigates new costs that have a cooling effect on farms’ balance sheets.

If Canada were a room with 100 folks in it, farmers would take up one chair. Food and ag combined would get a small table of four, depending on how you count them.

Even if all of ag believed that climate change isn’t caused by greenhouse gas emissions, which they don’t, the vast majority of Canadians do. And that is all that matters. Some might change their minds when gas goes up to $1.35 per litre, but for the moment we need to get on with being seen to do the right things and mitigating exposure to the expense.

Despite President Donald Trump’s bravado, the U.S. will at some point be meeting the Paris Accord’s requirements for market reasons. For now it creates opportunity for Canada to show that we can deliver on our promises and market our clean image: clean air, clean water, clean food production.

Let’s go get some market share, but first we need the other 96 folks in the Canadian room to allow some public policies that let us profit from our efforts.

Debates over climate change won’t put silver in producers’ pockets, but they will tarnish our shiny industry in consumers’ minds.

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