Sunday, June 23, 2019

Is the Government Two-Faced on Climate Change? You Betcha!

It's all there in the first recital to the federal Emergencies Act,
WHEREAS the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government,
"Fundamental obligations" indeed.

Now we have an emergency, a climate emergency. We're not the first to declare a state of climate emergency.  Scotland and Wales led the way on that.  In short order Westminster followed suit.  Canada's Parliament, with the telling exception of Scheer's Tories, joined in.

Canada is in a state of climate emergency and it is steadily worsening. Who knows what this could do our country. It could well wreck our economy just as it threatens to wreck the global economy. It could fracture our sometimes tumultuous Confederation. Our understanding of "haves and have-nots" could be in for a shake-up.

I remember when the former premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, wrote a lengthy and impassioned op-ed in the Globe and Mail imploring Canada, but especially British Columbia, not to go for the easy-wealth from selling our fresh water bounty. Alberta and Saskatchewan, he wrote, might eventually need that water for their survival as prosperous provinces.  Lougheed foresaw the prospect of mega-drought sweeping the prairies.

For the good of the country we blocked the easy money from supertankers laden with beautiful Canadian freshwater.  For the good of the country.

Alberta doesn't see fossil fuels the same way Peter Lougheed saw that other natural resource, water, that his province might someday so desperately need. Isn't that curious? Oil and water, it seems, don't mix at least not politically.

I was pleased when we rejected the bulk sale of Canadian water. There would be no supertankers plying our coastal fjords loading up on glacial runoff. Only now, if Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney get their way, we'll be welcoming supertankers to ply our coast heavily laden with climate-wrecking bitumen.

Justin said it himself. Nobody would find billions of barrels of oil in the ground and just leave it there. By nobody, he really meant Justin Trudeau and his merry band of petro-pimps.

But now we're in a state of national emergency, a climate emergency. Can't argue that. Sea level rise is an emergency when you've got the world's longest coastline. The rapidly warming Arctic is already displacing some northern settlements and more will surely succumb. The tundra is drying out, catching fires we can't reach much less extinguish, spreading black carbon across the north including the Greenland ice cap. Then there's the permafrost that is thawing, releasing its trove of once safely sequestered CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Inland, across the south, there are plenty of severe weather events - extreme heat, extreme cold, drought and floods and that's just getting started. We're still dependent on a vast network of infrastructure - power grids, rail beds, highways, bridges, overpasses, ports - all built for another, gentler climate, a climate now giving way to a harsher, more demanding climate for which that infrastructure was never intended to endure.

So, we've got a national emergency alright and we're only seeing the early-onset stuff, to use a rather unfortunate phrase - the tip of the iceberg.

And, once you've been plunged into a national emergency, the government's own law imposes on it a "fundamental obligation" of protection.  They're duty bound to protect us as individuals, as a people. They're obliged to preserve our sovereignty, our security and our territorial integrity. For some reason there's no mention of protecting the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers or the petro-state that props it up. There's nothing in there that says you protect and preserve but not if it inconveniences the economy or the big and powerful.

Poor Justin, he's so conflicted. He wants to rapidly expand the petro-state. He so wants to flood world markets with high carbon, high cost, low value bitumen, a real climate wrecker.

Chuckles, well he's not conflicted. I can almost believe Trudeau has some qualms, a shred of social conscience. Not much, just a glimmer. Scheer? None of that, not a drop. That's why he won't even acknowledge this climate emergency. He's not into fundamental obligations to protect and preserve.

However, Parliament has spoken. We are in the throes of a climate emergency. It was the government's own motion albeit somewhat disingenuous by the fact it is non-binding on the very government that brought it.  A climate emergency birthed in weasel words. Yet it is still a good foundation on which to take the measure of this government and those that will follow it.

Where is the protection? Where is the preservation? A carbon tax is a laughable response to a very real climate emergency that imperils the nation and our people.  The emergency is real. This government's response is not.

1 comment:

Toby said...

Mound, for the sake of discussion let's set climate aside for a moment. Doing so we can see that it is still wrong to pollute the air, the land and the sea. Collectively we are poisoning the planet, mining fish and animals to extinction and destroying habitat. Our way of adaption to the planet is so destructive that we are ultimately doomed whether or not the planet heats. That demand to build a pipe is really a demand that we continue our poisonous path.

What we need is severely strong environmental regulation, even more encompassing and stronger than what Harper and crew removed. Want to dig the tar sands? First, you have to clean up your mess. You will not be allowed to use water in the process and you will not be allowed to pollute any watersheds. You will not be allowed to dilute the tar with solvents in order to transport. Etc.