|"He Didn't Hear a Word I Said."|
After their private tete-a-tete in Mexico, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada each released summaries of their discussion. When it comes to climate change you might, on reading the summaries, think they weren't even in the same room.
Let's begin with the more credible of the two, Barack Obama. The president reports that he discussed climate change with Canada's prime minister and urged Canada to get on the same page with America to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
"I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision. But frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable," Obama said.
He said increasing "severe weather patterns" has "consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security."
"It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate and will be extraordinarily costly. So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada," Obama added.
Obama said he wants to promote economic growth, but that has to be balanced against eventually transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels.
"We only have one planet," he said, adding "we do have to point to the future" to influence other big emitters such as China and India, and "have leverage" over them.
The prime minister of Canada overlooked that part of their chat. Instead his remarks suggested that the Canadian government's views on climate change are warped around bitumen trafficking and shoring up investor confidence.
Harper replied that Canada and the U.S. have a "shared concern" about climate change. He also appeared to make a subtle dig at the long approval process Keystone has faced.
The prime minister also pointed out that the most recent State Department report gave the Alberta oilsands a good grade on environmental impact.
"As you know, a couple of years ago we moved to reform our system so that we have a single (environmental) review wherever possible — a single review, a multidimensional review that happens over a fixed timeline (apparently beginning sometime after 2100)," Harper said.
"And I think that is a process that is tremendously useful in giving investors greater certainty in terms of the kind of plans they may have in the Canadian economy."
You get that. It's not about your kids or theirs. For the prime minister of Canada it's about investor confidence. Our prime minister is the old white guy who sits in his rocker on the front porch and yells at the future to get off his goddamned lawn.