President Barack Obama appears to understand the threat of climate change. Stephen Harper does not.
The question now is whether Harper can actually bridge that gap. Because he’s going to have to.
Pollution-caused global warming has been a feature of virtually every major speech Obama has made in the last year.
He is now selling clean energy as an essential part of his strategy to fend off the worsening economic crisis, likening it to the US lunar program.
It is not a new concept.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been suggesting this for years.
The idea is to foster breakthroughs in energy production, shifting society so that its impact on the Earth is lessened.
This modern energy strategy will create jobs and technological innovation.
It will make society more efficient, and should, in the midterm, reduce costs to industry.
However, the world’s leaders have dithered so badly on this issue that it isn’t clear whether such a greening trend could ward off the worst ecological doomsday scenarios.
That said, the world’s top scientists are fairly certain that doing nothing will not benefit the planet. Or human society as we know it.
So it’s better to act.
Obama understands this.
But Harper, with his base in Alberta, is still a champion of the problem, which is, for the most part, oil.
For years, he has blunted Canada’s environmental policies in favour of business-as-usual development of dirty power.
At best, Harper’s treated the warming issue with open contempt.
And so, when he and Obama met in Ottawa on Thursday, he said he’s willing to discuss a continent-wide energy policy.
It was the only play he had in the face of a popular president who has declared war on coal and Alberta’s goopy, petroleum-soaked soil.
Clearly, for the planet, more talk is not enough. It is a continuation of the stalling tactics we’ve seen for years.
But, with Obama standing next to him in Ottawa, is was clear Harper was on shaky ground.
If Obama’s strategy proceeds, Canada’s economy will change.
The question now is whether we go down fighting, or embrace it. (Richard Mostyn)