On Monday June 17th the House of Commons voted to declare a climate emergency than less than 24 hours later Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would be proceeding with the Trans Mountain pipeline. Trudeau is trying to get reelected by reviving the policy dualism that got him elected in the first place.
Climate action bombshells and carbon bombs
Trudeau spent $4.5 billion of taxpayer dollars to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline, now he is saying that all of the revenue the project generates for the federal government will be put towards the green economy. This is an oxymoron and a dangerous political gambit.
It is the same kind of dualism we see in the declaration of a climate emergency and the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Liberals did something similar early in their mandate. In October 2016 Trudeau announced a national carbon pricing plan just after he approved the LNG terminal. This was a climate action bombshell followed by a carbon bomb.
The 1,150 km (715 mile) Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is an even bigger carbon bomb. It will ferry crude from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby British Columbia (BC). This will triple the existing capacity of the pipeline from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 per day. It will also dramatically increase oil tanker along BC’s fragile coastline.
Canadians want it both ways
Trudeau and his political handlers likely see themselves as responding to the popular will. What they are really doing is pandering to the ignorance of the Canadian electorate. Canadians, like so many others around the world want to have it both ways. They want environmental protections and climate actions but they also countenance the short term thinking that drives the old energy economy.
In response to this madness Greta Thuberg issued the following tweet: “One second they declare a #ClimateEmergency and the next second they say yes to expand a pipeline.
This is shameful. But of course this is not only in Canada, we can unfortunately see the same pattern everywhere…”
Climate action and dirty energy don’t mix
Support for increased fossil fuel development is at odds with climate action. This glaring contradiction is a recipe to end life on the Earth as we know it. There are a number of reports that clearly state that fossil fuels are a threat to civilization. Some may be selfish and others may be suicidal but whatever our reasons, we have no right to imperil future generations.
Fossil fuels are a leading cause of global warming and we need to address the fact that the industry wields tremendous political influence. The spin we see from Ottawa and the dirty energy industry seems to suggest that we can have it both ways. However, this is simply not true. Ramping up fossil fuel
exports is fundamentally at odds with climate action and suggesting otherwise is an affront to basic common sense.
Canada needs leadership
Instead of a leadership that helps the electorate to understand the urgent reality of our situation we have Pollyanna politicians whose campaigns are premised on the belief that hope makes them more electable. This is a false hope that can only lead to despair. Real leadership involves telling Canadians the truth and making the economic and moral case for transitioning away from fossil fuels and embracing broad spectrum climate action.
The argument is supported by basic physics and high school level math. We are already at 415 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere, to keep temperatures from rising above the upper threshold limit (1.5-2 degrees Celsius) we need to rapidly decarbonize our economies. The idea that we can somehow grow fossil fuels and combat global warming is nothing more than dishonest political rhetoric.
Clearly Andrew Scheer, the Progressive Conservative candidate for Prime Minister, is not the answer to Canada’s lack of political leadership. As revealed by his climate plan, Scheer and his party are even more disconnected from science based policy than the federal Liberals.
Nonetheless, Scheer’s chances improve if Trudeau’s moves alienate the growing number of Canadians who want to see environmental leadership from the federal government. In trying to please everyone, the Liberals may end up pleasing no one.