A new Environment and Climate Change Canada report found that Canada is warming at twice the rate
of the rest of the world and that Northern Canada is warming nearly three times the global rate.
What was the response of politicians to this urgent news? Business as usual. The Liberal government doubled down on its outdated climate plan – the same one government audits show has no chance of meeting Canada’s modest UN climate commitments. Meanwhile, in BC, the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) government announced that they were providing another tax cut to LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) producers to try and attract even more non-renewable energy investment to the province. This after they admitted that their climate “plan” actually has no plan to actually fully accomplish its targets.
Watching politicians perform verbal and policy acrobatics to justify their inaction would be hilarious - but the forests are catching fire, the water is being poisoned and rising, animals are going extinct and the vast majority of scientists are all saying the same thing: we are running out of time.
The Environment and Climate Change Canada report also found that three of the past five years have been the warmest on record and that across the country, records show the changing climate has meant extreme heat, less extreme cold, rapidly thinning glaciers, and rising sea levels in coastal regions.
Dispelling the hopeless narrative that these unprecedented changes are somehow part of earth’s natural cycle, Marjorie Shepherd, director of the climate research division at Environment Canada concluded, “While both human activities and actual variations in climate contribute to this observed warming in Canada, the human factor is dominant.”
Nancy Hamzawi, the assistant deputy minister of the science and technology branch of Environment and Climate Change Canada also added, “Global emissions of carbon dioxide from human activity will largely determine how much more warming Canada and the world will experience in the future.”
“Disturbing” Lack of Government Response
Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand's final conclusion as the country’s environmental watchdog was that the government’s slow action to deal with the warming planet is most “disturbing”. “For decades, successive federal governments have failed to reach their targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and the government is not ready to adapt to a changing climate. This must change.”
This follows yet another government report, a collaboration between the auditors general of nine provinces and the federal environment commissioner, highlighting “common shortcomings” in how different levels of government are lowering greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the effects of climate change. It concludes that Canada is on pace to overshoot its emissions target for 2020 by nearly 20 percent and that without major changes Canada will definitely not meet its UN Paris Agreement target by 2030.
BC NDP Double Down on LNG
Literally only a couple of days after the Environment Canada report on record warming, the BC NDP
government announced that it was lowering the income tax rate for fossil gas producers from 12 percent to nine percent in order to attract even more LNG industries the province, and as a sweet gift to the corporations already involved in production.
How they square this with the fact that they were already 25% short of their “Clean BC” climate targets
after approving the multi-billion dollar LNG Canada mega-project is beyond reason. The LNG Canada project had also already received more than $5.35 billion in tax-payer funded financial incentives from the BC government.
While LNG is trying to be sold as a “clean transition fuel”, it is anything but. The gas is extracted by a process which pulverizes hydrocarbon-bearing underground rock with highly pressurized streams of water, sand and chemicals - a process called “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking” for short. Writing in the Tyee online (thetyee.ca) newspaper, Andrew Nikiforuk exposed the willful ignorance of the government on this
destructive process. He wrote,
“Although a government-commissioned scientific review of fracking in British Columbia released earlier this month occupies some 232 pages, the word ‘concerns,’ as in “concerns regarding environmental impact,” pops up more than 130 times.
The word insufficient, as in ‘insufficient information,’ peppers the report 27 times, while ‘unknown’ appears 17 times.
Uncertain or uncertainty, as in ‘uncertain water quality,’ appears nearly 50 times, while gaps, as in ‘important knowledge gaps’; litters the document 27 times.”
It’s hard to say what is more irresponsible, approving the massive LNG project before the report on fracking was finished, or doubling down after it clearly showed major concerns and ignorance. A recent peer-reviewed study by the David Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University also found methane emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas industry are twoand-a-half times higher than reported.
“It’s not going to be easy,” BC Premier Horgan told reporters, “Industrial activity and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples are difficult issues. Meeting our climate change objectives are primary and fundamental to the new government’s approach.”
“Rather than skirt those issues, like the previous government did — rather than ignore those issues of reconciliation and climate action — we want to marry industrial activity with those two key government objectives.”
After seeing the militarized RCMP raid on peaceful Wet’suwet’en Nation people protecting their unceded territories from the Coastal GasLink pipeline which would serve the LNG Canada project, as well as the climate impacts of LNG industry expansion, it’s safe to say that the marriage Premier Horgan is proposing is an abusive one.
It’s hard to miss oil company commercials featuring inspiring music, children running in fields and promises of a brighter future and sustainability. Likewise, print ads with green colour schemes
and sponsorship of community festivals. As people come to understand the fundamental link between fossil fuel production and our current climate crisis, a new report by a British think tank InfluenceMap finds that “the five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron,
BP and Total) have invested over $1Bn of shareholder funds in the three years following the Paris Agreement on misleading climate related branding and lobbying.”
“Oil majors are projecting themselves as key players in the energy transition while lobbying to delay, weaken, or oppose meaningful climate policy,” Edward Collins, author of the new report, said in
a statement. “They advocate gradual implementation of marketbased and technological climate solutions, but the latest [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report makes clear that urgent policy action and limitations on fossil fuel use are needed to avoid dangerous climate change.”
Crisis and Opportunity
The report about rising temperatures in Canada is bad news, but it’s important for us to use the information to reach out to skeptical friends and co-workers to help convince them that the forest fires which now turn the sky grey and destroy thousands of acres every summer in BC are going to get worse if we don’t work together to address the climate crisis. We can also use this as a bridge to expand on the overall
global impacts of climate change and the millions of people whose lives are already in jeopardy because of it.
We live in a strange world – where governments commission climate reports in order to delay action and then ignore the results. Where the world’s dirtiest polluters claim to be the most enthusiastic cheerleaders of creating a sustainable world. Where the Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau campaigns on the slogan of “Climate Justice” after spending $4.5 billion on a dirty Tar Sands pipeline and expansion project. If these governments and corporations followed through on even half of their promises and “corporate statement of principles” we wouldn’t need to fight for a better world, we’d already been there! Obviously there is a disconnect between what they say and what they do, and obviously, there is still a need for independent mass organizing to stop this unsustainable madness.
There is still time, but we need to do this on our own terms and through our own growing movements for
climate justice and a better world.
System Change Not Climate Change!
Follow Thomas on Twitter:@thomasdavies59
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