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“A fast,emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. The orthodoxy is that there is time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm.Discussion of what would be safeless warming that we presently experienceis non-existent. And so we have a policyfailure of epic proportions. Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing,prosperous world.”David Spratt and Ian Dunlop

Climatechangeisgettingworsefast with extreme weather already apotential economic and social threat multiplier and tipping points to Hothouse Earth close if not surpassed.

Fossil fuel production and use and GHG emissions continue to rise with ‘official’ projections showinglittle decline in fossil fuel production and use until at least 2040. 

At the same time the emerging climate science isshrinkingcarbon budgets and mitigation timelines for 1.5 or 2C. Mitigation tostay under 2C(the internationally agreed precautionary guardrail to preventdangerous climate change) would require an emission reduction by half by 2030 and then half of the remainder by 2040. The latest IPCC report summarizes why a 1.5Cguardrail would be so much safer (but, realistically, keeping below a1.5Crise in temperature is now almost impossible).

Human caused climate change is happening. International mitigation efforts over three decades have failed. Hardline pro fossil politicians such as Trump and Putin are in ascendancy, expanding production and threatening international cooperation. And now dangerous climate change, runaway warming, in a cascade of latent feedbacks threatens civilization if not humanity’s very future. Before the Steffen’ Hothouse Earth’ paper scientists estimated that there was only around a 5% chance of runaway warming; now ever increasing emissions are taking us past internationally agreed upon precautionary guardrails to ever increasing probability of extinction.

Pretend Leadership

In 2015 Canada’s new Trudeau government stepped to the front at the Paris COP helping lead in agreement for ‘as far below 2C as possible’. But it was pretend leadership. The Trudeau government came home and proceeded to try and expand fossil fuel production – Canada is the world’s sixth largest producer of fossil fuels – while proposing a national mitigation framework for carbon pricing aided decarbonization that is projected to fail to meet even the weak, Harper- era, emission reduction target that were based on the now untenable Kyoto 2050 timeline.

Trudeau’s Liberal government advocated for pipelines for oil sand expansion even though the emerging science (McGlade-Ekins,for the most prominent example) warned that no new fossil infrastructure should be built and that oil sands production would have to be wound down by the mid 2020s.  “Strong environmental protection with responsible energy development.”

At this crucial time and presumably knowledgeable about the dire climate science, the Trudeau government did everything in their power to mislead Canadians about how serious the climate change danger is and what mitigation was needed.

Trudeau and co kept fossil fuel production in the nation’s Overt on Window or ‘commonsense frame’ instead of effective mitigation. Instead of preparing Canadians for the disruptive fast transition to a post-fossil economy that was needed, they pretended that we could continue to expand production in a mitigation framework where emissions still rose. They did everything in their power to keep Canadians in climate denial, pretending that we could shoehorn climate mitigation into continuing economic and governmental business as usual when they must have known that disruptive change, deep systemic change, was needed.

Canada personifies renewed failure at Paris. A recent report examining national ambition to cut emissions and the temperature rise that would result if the world followed their example found that if all nations acted like Canada temperature rise willbe 5C by2100. Canada has lead globally at pretending to take climate change seriously while continuing to raise emissions. The Trudeau government personifies global political cowardice and self-interest. No government has promised more and achieved less. No government has set a worse international example. Leadership to 5C is tragic failure for Canadians and the world, failure we can’t afford.

Climate activists in Canada should try and force the Trudeau government to resign. This could be a first important step to real, effective mitigation. If the pretend leadership of Trudeau and co isn’t challenged and overcome there is no possibility of real, effective climate change mitigation. Forcing a Trudeau resignation would put pretend decarbonization and the perils of a slow transition in the public eye globally. Forced resignation would be a global wake up call to all policymakers that kicking the can down the 2050 road and pretend mitigation is no longer acceptable but even criminal.

Real climate leaders don’t build pipelines. Climate change is now life or death. Climate change isn’t just one of many issues for government. Climate change could be fatal. It is an emergency requiring emergency government and urgent disruptive, systemic change. Pretend climate leadership-policy makers magical thinking – just keeps us from timely treatment, from effective climate mitigation.

Bill Henderson is a frequent contributor to Countercurrents on Climate Change . He can be reached at
bill (at) pacificfringe.net

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