Following is a guest post by long-time BC environmentalist Bill Henderson
The pollsters report that climate change is Canadians’ top election concern. The extreme weather — the heat dome, the wildfires, flooding, and even unseasonably cold summer weather — and the dire new IPCC report have galvanized attention. But concern is skin deep: all of the parties climate platform policies are grossly insufficient, the climate villains are still in firm control, and any informed outsider would see a nation in deep climate denial.
The house is burning but nobody is getting up and leaving their devices to try and put it out; they are reluctant to call upon any government agency like the fire department, and the few who do profess leadership in dealing with the fire are having a polite chat with the evil bastards that are throwing gasoline on the fire. Instead, they wonder if there is not a safer way to throw the gasoline.
The Trudeau Liberal government has been abysmal: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to rise; they have done everything in their power to expand fossil fuel production including tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies including the purchase of a pipeline; and by claiming to be climate leaders while doing less than nothing, but waste precious time. They have led a global immunity via collective failure after Paris, which threatens our futures.
There should not have been an election during Covid. Governments in Canada should be working together to protect Canadians and to activate policies to build back better in the recovery. But if we are going to have an election with climate the top priority, why is the only remaining path to possible climate safety conspicuously ignored by all of the parties, by almost all of the candidates and most of the media? (But not by the ENGO Environmental Defense which has an excellent ‘climate and the election’ page.)
After three decades of failure orchestrated by delayer lobbying and paid denial, getting to effective mitigation is now life or death for our kids, our descendants and all we love and care for. We have this decade to reduce emissions enough to keep safe from dangerous climate change which promises to collapse our global civilization.
To stay under the not totally safe 2C rise in global temperature limit, the accepted metric is a 50 % reduction of GHG emissions by 2030. The only way that 50% by 2030 is practically possible now is a governmental regulated wind-down of fossil fuel production and use of at least 5% per year starting as soon as possible.
For only one example of how pretend our current decarbonization policies are — are we going to convert half of our fleet of cars and trucks to EVs by 2030? Get serious. And even if we used draconian government action to do so, the additional use of fossil fuel energy needed would raise, not lower emissions at this crucial time. The 100% renewables, energy transition within political and economic business as usual is now a pipedream.
But we still need to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 bottom line or we risk going over the cliff. There is no incremental, nudge and tweak to our very fortunate lifestyles and economy that can reduce emissions enough to do our duty to future generations. We need transformative, deep systemic change beginning with policies to actually keep fossil fuels in the ground – policies to regulate a managed decline of all fossil fuel production.
The only way this radical approach to reducing emissions can even be considered let alone implemented is an emergency, wartime-style, coalition government. Such a coalition government will be necessary to get Canadians and their political representatives all on the same page regarding the suite of climate dangers and what action is now needed.
But nowhere in the party platforms, the candidate speeches, or in media coverage will you find even mention of a managed decline or the need for an emergency coalition government.
This should be shocking. It’s unconscionable considering what we owe our descendants. Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer of fossil fuels. To have any chance of global mitigation success, stable, wealthy, technologically apt Canada must lead.
Instead we refuse to even mention the only remaining policy path to necessary emission reduction. And even worse, the two political parties that could form the next government each have a climate policy platform giving tens of billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industries – further pretend mitigation policies to use unproven even delusional schemes such as carbon capture and storage and blue hydrogen to lower oil and gas emissions from production. While still planning to export fossil fuels to be burned somewhere else but still adding huge amounts of GHGs to our common atmosphere. How stupidly myopic is this? WTF!!??!?
If this election isn’t a continuing example of society-wide climate denial what is? We need government leadership and action on climate and climate is supposedly Canadians foremost concern, but the next government of Canada is going to continue to try and do everything in their power to expand fossil fuel production.
No matter whether the Libs or Cons form the next government, GHG emissions from fossil fuels produced in Canada will increase over the next crucial decade. Is this what Canadians want? Are Canadians and their would be legislators this myopic? Profoundly unethical? Incredibly stupid?
If we are going to do the right thing and stop being so neoliberally ignorant there has to be learning. Quickly, urgently. The upcoming COP at Glasgow is going to raise the bar and the IPCC report on mitigation due next Spring will wake us up to the real mitigation policies needed. But right now we have to look ourselves in the mirror – with revulsion: how could we allow our governance to be so tawdry? So useless? So cynically criminal? So corrupted by lobbyists and paid denial?
Climate change is a life and death emergency. Three decades of mitigation failure has us on the brink. And the majority of Canadians are still in deep, deep climate denial.
Categories: Climate Change