Tech & science beat

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Elizabeth Suggs | Staff Writer | [email protected]

Russell Williams, associate professor of political science from Memorial University, Canada, will speak to UVU students Oct. 28 on the United Nations led Paris Climate Summit, or Paris Process on Mobility and Climate.

The Paris Process is an open platform for anyone and everyone to take action on climate change, the end goal being to help contribute to a global agreement on climate change.

“Most agreements are done in secret,” Williams said. “But, the Paris Process is designed for the public.”

Williams explained that compared to other international agreements, the U.N. wants the public to be more engaged in the Paris Process. This helps people understand that it is partially their responsibility to fix the problems associated with climate change.

What makes the Paris Process so important to both American and Canadian citizens is a deal between China and the U.S. to lower greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, China and the U.S. are the two countries with the highest carbon dioxide emissions, China being the higher.

“The deal between Obama and China left Canada to change its policies,” Williams said.

According to Williams, Canadian citizens want to fix the climate, but the government isn’t doing enough. He said Canada’s excuse has been that because the U.S. hasn’t done anything about climate change, and since the U.S. is 80-90 percent of its international trade, Canada hasn’t had to worry. Now that the U.S. and China are proposing to change their attitudes toward climate change rapidly, Canada has a limited amount of time to fix itself. Williams worries Canada doesn’t have enough time.

“Even if the U.S. succeeds,” Williams said, “Canada may fail.”

However, some measure of change has happened in Canada, at least in British Columbia, according to Williams. A carbon tax has been instituted in that province for energy and fuel use.

Williams said that rather than paying so much in income tax, citizens pay a carbon tax.

“Essentially you’re paying the same tax,” Williams said. “Personally, I think this is the best, but it’s hard politically.”

People don’t like changing their lifestyles, he said, and while the carbon tax is small comparatively, it may be hard to sway change.

The carbon tax may be the easiest place to start, but for Williams, more must be done to really fix the climate.

“We have to adopt reasons for support, invest in public transit, and have vacuum funds,” Williams said. “All these things are possible, but there has to be an incentive.”

Canada, like the U.S., he said, doesn’t have “great” public transit. Williams disagreed with Utah’s plans to widen the highway.

“All that’s going to do is increase greenhouse emissions.” Williams said. “The science is more controversial in the U.S., but we’re going to pay for this.” He said the longer we continue to emit greenhouse gases, the harder it will be to ignore the problem.