Campbell’s next move

Photo credit: “Fraser River Rainbow,” Flickr/name.invalid

While the feds are still screwing around, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is charging ahead, making deals to join carbon-trading systems worldwide:

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell joined politicians from around the world in signing a partnership agreement that would create a global carbon market for trading the environmental damaging emissions.

Campbell was Canada’s only representative and signatory at the ceremony Monday, but he said he doesn’t see his attendance at the Lisbon conference as overshadowing the federal government’s actions on climate change.

“I don’t expect this is a surprise to the prime minister,” Campbell told reporters on a telephone conference call.

The lead on the story overstates the case a bit: the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) is really an agreement to share best practices and whatnot, not to actually establish a market, though that is the long-term goal. From the news release:

ICAP will provide an international forum in which governments and public authorities adopting mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade systems will share experiences and best practices on the design of emissions trading schemes. This cooperation will ensure that the programs are more compatible and are able to work together as the foundation of a global carbon market. Such a market will boost demand for low-carbon products and services, promote innovation, and allow cost effective reductions so as to allow swift and ambitious global reductions in global warming emissions.

I am, I don’t mind saying, pretty surprised that Gordon Campbell is leading the Canadian provinces on this file. I scrummed Campbell more than once during my short stint working on the west coast, and he struck me, close up, as a British Columbian Mike Harris with a pronounced tendency toward goobishness. Business-friendly populism to the max, and for all B.C.’s reputation as a land where granola grows on trees, it’s a place heavily reliant on mining and forestry and other high-intensity primary industries.

But maybe Campbell’s more forward-looking than I gave him credit for and sees where the money’s to be made in decades to come. (Or maybe he’s just seeing the messages the pine beetle’s leaving behind as it chews through B.C.’s forests at a prodigious rate.) The Lower Mainland has a fledgling high-tech industry, and if B.C. can get in on the ground floor of a genuine carbon-trading scheme, with its built-in cultural predisposition toward green energy and vehicles, it could lead Canada’s green economy of the future.

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