For a time, global warming looked like the biggest issue of our time.

Now, in the time of Trump, politicians aren’t giving it a second thought — or a single mention.

At his Monday summit with the U.S. president, Justin Trudeau carefully dodged that bullet. In a post-summit briefing Wednesday at Queen’s Park, Canada’s ambassador to Washington and Premier Kathleen Wynne circled around it.

Instead, opposition critics are moving into the void by saying what’s on the minds of many Canadians: If we are on a collision course with the Trump administration, shouldn’t we put the fight against global warming on ice?

In Ottawa, Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose says Trump’s election makes it “complete insanity that we would kneecap our own economy and put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage with a carbon tax.”

Kneecapped by cap and trade?

All that said, the federal Tories have never said when the time was right to partner with Washington. In part, that’s because the U.S. capital has long been conflicted about greenhouse gas emissions.

So, is it time to admit the campaign for clean air is dead in the water?

The answer goes beyond ideology to geography. U.S. gridlock is precisely why Canada’s major provinces long ago did an end-run around Washington.

Instead, Quebec and Ontario teamed up to create a critical mass at the subnational level, forging partnerships between Canadian provinces and American state governments. Now, even with the about-face in the Oval Office, there is no sudden reason for Canadians to change course on climate change.

Ontario’s climate accords aren’t with Washington. Our ties are with the Western Climate Initiative, an alliance of Western states and Canadian provinces that pre-dates Trump and is destined to outlive him.

Down in the polls, Wynne isn’t talking up her climate change strategy these days. Cap and trade is not only hard to understand, it’s a hard sell in a province where people are feeling — and feeding off — pocketbook anger.

Never mind that it won’t increase electricity prices (hydro is essentially exempt) and that market prices have dipped dramatically for natural gas and gasoline at the pump (even after factoring in the few dollars attributable to the new system).

But in California — the world’s seventh-largest economy with

39 million people — cap and trade is a positive talking point. Riding high in the polls, Gov. Jerry Brown vowed last month to press ahead with an ambitious agenda against climate change.

“California is not turning back — not now, not ever,” he promised in a State of the State address to lawmakers, a year after extending his landmark environmental plan that raises costs on pollution.

Queen’s Park will also stay the course — unless Wynne loses the next election to the opposition Progressive Conservatives. While PC Leader Patrick Brown professes to be pro-environment, he derides cap and trade as a cash grab.

Like California and Quebec, Ontario has embraced a cap-and-trade system that attempts to put a price on polluters who emit the carbon that causes global warming. The system imposes a cap on emissions (which decreases over time), while raising money for transit and other environmental investments.

Ontario was slow to adopt carbon pricing, lagging far behind Quebec, B.C. and California. But the province led the way — and paid a price — by phasing out the use of high-polluting coal and replacing it with gas-fired power plants that proved costly to build (and especially cancel). Because it is now largely emissions-free and comes at a high price, electricity won’t be subject to carbon pricing.

In any case, Ontario wasn’t counting on the U.S. to sign on to carbon pricing at the national level anytime soon. Even if Hillary Clinton had won the election, there was no telling whether she would, or could, have moved forward with it in a divided capital.

True, Trump’s victory means the Environmental Protection Agency will vaporize regulations curbing coal-fired power plants. But Ontario can’t go back on its decision to phase out coal, which was enormously popular at the time (even if people didn’t bargain on the extra costs.) And there’s a limit to how much more coal U.S. utilities will want to use, given the declining cost of natural gas.

As for Canadian companies being kneecapped by cap and trade: one big benefit of the system’s complexity is its flexibility in granting allowances to trade-sensitive industries that might otherwise be unfairly burdened by carbon costs their cross-border competitors don’t face. Rather than being handicapped, they get something of a free pass.

The bigger question for Ontario’s system: will the multi-billion-dollar carbon-pricing windfall go to waste?

But that’s a political question. Not an environmental one.

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