Monday, July 13, 2015

Back To Business As Usual?

After all of the feel-good rhetoric of the Climate Summit of the Americas, held last week in Toronto, it would appear that we are back to business as usual, at least in Canada.

The Globe and Mail reports the following:
Canada’s premiers are poised to sign an agreement to fast-track new oil sands pipelines while watering down commitments to fight climate change.

The Canadian Energy Strategy will be finalized and unveiled at a premiers’ conference in St. John’s beginning Wednesday.
While it appears that the political will to facilitate the flow of tarsands oil is strong, a commitment to mitigating climate change is not:
Two sections of the plan commit the provinces and territories to help get more pipelines built, in part by cutting down on red tape to speed up regulatory decisions.

But the strategy contains little firm commitment on battling global warming. Its strongest environmental section – a pledge for all provinces and territories to adopt absolute targets for cutting greenhouse gases – is marked as a point of contention that might be scrapped.
There is vague environmental rhetoric peppered throughout the draft strategy, but no binding promises on exactly what the provinces and territories will do to fight climate change – only a general pledge to “transition to a lower carbon economy.” One section, for instance, lists a series of possible climate-change policies, including carbon capture and carbon pricing, but does not appear to require that provinces and territories do any of them.
The obvious contradiction between expanding pipelines and lowering greenhouse gas emissions is one of those pesky details that our provincial political leaders seem happy to ignore:
There is also no explanation on how oil-sands production can expand – a likely scenario if more pipelines are built – while the country still reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Well, of course this is an obvious explanation, isn't there: egregious contempt for the suffering more and more people will experience as the world continues to warm, and lavish cossetting of those who stand to profit the most from the continued burning of fossil fuels, a truth that no political rhetoric, no matter how skillfully spun, will be able to conceal for very long.


  1. They're all in on it, Lorne - Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat. Read Bill Longstaff's post about Rachel Notley. This is exactly what Andrew Nikiforuk describes as the workings of a modern petro-state in the age of neoliberalism.

    This comes just months before the Paris climate summit which is largely said to be our final chance at reaching a binding and effective agreement to slash emissions if we're to avoid catastrophic climate change. Yeah, as in "last chance." Yet in Canada they're all petro-pols solidly backing our extractive industries. We know that, globally, we have to leave the highest-carbon fossil fuels safely in the ground only just don't tell that to a Conservative, Liberal or New Democrat.

    I catch hell from a lot of self-identified progressives, usually of the NDP suasion, for rejecting strategic voting. They castigate me as uppity for insisting I'll vote Green, claiming I'm helping to keep Harper in power. The fact is I don't want Mulcair or Trudeau in power either. I'm convinced that people of conscience have no other choice but to vote Green.

    I will do what I can to defeat Harper but I'll not raise a finger to help Mulcair or Trudeau.

    1. The whole situation makes me sick at heart, Mound. To be like Cassandra, as critical thinkers are, and to be as powerless as her to alter the trajectory of events, is almost too much to bear.

  2. We need a popular movement led by people with a strong moral argument for ceasing emissions, like abolition in the UK. Why this hasn't gained more traction is somewhat of a mystery to me. I suspect it has something to do with the atomizing and crap nature of news and social media these days, ignore what is unpleasant. They would be able to change the political conversation and compel leaders to adopt it.

    1. I'm with you there, Tim. If something like the Keep It In The Ground campaign, championed by The Guardian, existed here, it would surely make certain interests very uncomfortable and make the urgency of emissions reduction very much a part of the national conversation.