Thursday, April 25, 2019
Will We Let Them Off the Hook Again? Sure We Will.
There are times when politicians have to treat voters like grown-ups. This is one of those moments.
Like it or not, we live in perilous times. It is in such difficult times that we need candour and clarity from those who seek to lead us. That's part of progressive democracy.
You might disagree but I believe we need a direct explanation of what our political parties, the lot of them, propose to do about climate change. The warning we've been given is that we have somewhat less than 12 years to slash our greenhouse gas emissions by half if we're to have a reasonable chance - yes, chance, not certainty, not even probability - of averting catastrophic runaway global warming.
That's like a doctor warning you must choose - quit smoking right now or die.
Remember, this warning comes from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that, since its inception, has established a dangerous pattern of understating - sugar coating, if you will - its predictions on climate change. Even the boys and girls with the rose-coloured glasses are saying if we don't give up our carbon-ways and rapidly, we're screwed.
When you're up against a threat like that, you need some answers. You need honesty.
Politicians aren't very good at honesty. That's especially true for the Conservative and Liberal parties that, between them, have shared the reins of power in our country. They'll say pretty much anything and everything they calculate you want to hear, whatever it takes to get your vote, and then, the winner will go about breaking an awful lot of those once solemn promises.
Remember Harper came to power promising two things: accountability and transparency. When those tricks worked, he set about building a Hermit Kingdom, in which government was walled off from the public, their own public service. Harper then set about to implement change by incrementalism, slowly enough you would have to be pretty sharp to notice, its path greased with lies and darkness.
Justin brought a happy face to the scene but his promises of wisdom and light were almost as meaningless as what we endured with Harper. Lots of inspirational talk about electoral reform, social licence, First Nations reconciliation and more. It was all just a bag of shiny things and it worked.
We can't have that sort of blather again. Our children's lives are at risk. Our grandchildren's lives are in real peril. There's no more time for politics of the past, including the immediate past.
We need answers. How does the petro-state intend to address climate change? Do the candidates accept the IPCC warning? Are they willing to pick up that gauntlet? Do they intend to meet the "50 by 30" challenge or not? If yes, then how? If no, then what?
Carbon taxes - carbon bullshit. There is nothing in a minuscule carbon tax that would remotely meet the "50 by 30" baseline target. One has little to do with the other. Carbon taxes are gestural, nothing more.
We spent a decade in Afghanistan playing the gestural game. We pumped a lot of money and too many lives into that "mission" and we left the place pretty much as we found it. We never had a chance to tame Kandahar province, not with a paltry force of 2,000 for a job that required 15,000 to 20,000. That was a gestural response. Now the Americans are desperately negotiating for a "peace with honour" deal with the Taliban, much like the deal they cut with North Viet Nam to cover their retreat there in the 70s.
There are deep parallels between how we approached Afghanistan and how we're approaching climate change. The big difference is that climate change is something we just cannot walk away from. It won't let us. Hiking a mile uphill is not the same as summiting Everest.
For me the question is going to be whether the candidate accepts the IPCC "50 by 30" warning and has a credible plan to meet it. A credible plan, not just carbon taxes.
Credible as in understandable and believable. You have to see how they intend to get from here to there and you have to consider whether they're believable. On both scores, Andrew Scheer is a write-off. He won't pretend that he'll make changes of the required magnitude. He's all for going the other way. His "executive prime minister," Jason Kenney would see to that.
As for Justin Trudeau, we've seen how he meets his promises. He apologizes. He's an ardent neoliberal and he believes in the petro-state. "50 by 30"? How do you figure the chances of Trudeau even promising to meet that target?
Our very survival as a civilization is at stake. It will take a truly Herculean effort and there's precious little time remaining to us. It would be costly and immensely disruptive to meet the target.
One won't. He's the honest one. The other will say he will but won't. Neither of them is worth a tinker's dam. Then again they don't have to be one whit better than they are. When the ballots are counted this October, the two of them will have, between them, about 70 per cent of the vote. With that near certainty, honesty doesn't have much relevance.