In some ways the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic seems more urgent than the breakdown of our planet's climate. Perhaps that's because we're doing way more about the virus than we are to tackle the larger, truly existential threat. Climate breakdown doesn't have us wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands several times daily, sorting out how to educate our kids and all the pandemic incidentals.
We don't perceive climate breakdown as an immediate threat. In part that's because those of us latitudinally buffered are not yet experiencing its devastation as are those in more tropical regions. The closer you are to the equator, the stronger the reality of climate calamity.
There were many who hoped that the fight against climate change might take top priority in the government's latest throne speech. Instead the more visible issue, Covid-19, was our government's focus. There were a few wobbly promises - we'll do this by then or maybe somebody will sort of stuff. We've heard that before all the way back to Jean Chretien's governments. Targets that are aspirational fluff, never met. Nothing that binds this government and its successors to mandatory benchmarks.
Some were hoping that Mr. Trudeau would take a bold step such as ending Canada's multi-billion dollar subsidies to fossil energy producers, a great many of them foreign corporations. That's where 'the rubber meets the road.' No, no sign of that.
Instead, we got this:
“Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Oh those fossil fuelers, we'd be nothing without them and their "know-how." Maybe they can focus that genius on cleaning up the lethal mess they're leaving behind, those orphan wells and Tar Sands tailing ponds. What, that could cost $230 billion? They would leave first?
Covid is important, I get it. It is the most immediate threat to the Canadian economy. Climate breakdown isn't as immediate unless you're a young person and then it's a threat to your very survival. And climate breakdown is more immediate than any government is willing to acknowledge. We're charting the future for those kids today. Today. The detonator may be delayed-action but the trigger is today, now.
On the climate crisis, a succession of Canadian governments - Liberal, Conservative and Liberal again - have given us no reason to trust them and ample reason why we shouldn't.