Saturday, February 29, 2020
Full Dither Ahead
There are rarely political solutions to scientific perils.
That point is lost on our federal government that insists that action on climate change must be politically tailored to economic priorities.
The Liberals seemingly endorsed a motion to recognize that Canada - like every other country - is in the grip of a climate emergency. The government's sincerity was called into question when, less than 24 hours later, it greenlighted the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Our government struggles in its efforts to reconcile two blatantly irreconcilable priorities. Fortunately it has mastered cognitive dissonance, elevating it to an art. It results in a government of pretence. It says it sees the red light just ahead but its response is to floor the gas pedal.
Deputy prime minister, Christia Freeland, erased any doubt that it will be "Full Dither Ahead" for the Liberal government.
For starters, the Liberals cling to the dodgy pledge to make Canada a "net zero" emitter by 2050. How likely is that when, under the current government, we're falling further and further behind meeting Stephen Harper's emissions cut targets?
A number they don't seem to like is 2030. The scientific consensus is that if we're to avert truly catastrophic climate change all nations will need to cut by half their emissions by 2030. That leaves just a further 20 years to deal with the hardest part, the final 50 per cent. If you can't manage the first half by 2030 you've essentially given up on decarbonizing your economy by 2050.
What is the government's plan to cut Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030? How do we reconcile that responsibility with building pipelines for high-carbon fossil fuels? I guess that's where cognitive dissonance comes to the rescue once again.
There's also the Great Canadian Pacifier, the vaunted carbon tax. Suck on that and be quiet.
There is one thing the government could do right now that could put Canada on the right path. It could cancel fossil fuel subsidies. No more subsidized electricity. Charge world prices for water consumed/contaminated. No more grants and deferrals. Start collecting the funds for environmental remediation, the old 'polluter pays' principle.
Why won't they do that? It's because the petro-economy is a Ponzi scheme, that buries costs as 'externalities' that are often then transformed into a future public burden. It's a racket and we're the marks.
The IMF contends that Canada, like most petro-states, hides the true costs of public support for the most profitable corporations on the planet. That's socialism for the rich. While Canadian governments admit to over $2 billion in annual subsidies, the IMF adds in all these hidden costs and freebies and comes up with $46 billion each and every year. I have never seen any government, federal or provincial, ever refute those IMF numbers, have you?
Why do our leaders perpetuate this farce? I think I know. I suspect it's because they know what happens if they stop. They know we're sitting atop a Carbon Bubble that's ready to burst and they don't want to be that guy. They don't want to take the blame. They're afraid to lead.
And so we'll dither along, assuring the public that we can have it both ways. It's an emergency but, ya know, not really. Not so much.
Which brings us to Churchill, a guy steeped in emergency, who said, "It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required."