From my vantage point out here in the boonies, it’s easy to see that most of my fellow Canadians and citizens of at least the developed world are in society-wide implicatory denial on climate. (The climate science facts are not denied or re-interpreted, but instead “the psychological, political or moral implications that conventionally follow” from these facts are denied or ignored: Kari Norgaard.)
But nobody likes to be called out as someone in denial and this is especially the case when we’re talking about the majority of Canada’s and the world’s climate intelligentsia and the majority of informed and motivated opinion and editorial voices supporting climate mitigation.
These super well-intentioned people would certainly not consider that they were also acting as appeasers of the fossil fuel industries at this crucial time in history either.
In an earlier oped I quoted Canadian climate scientist Damon Matthews: “(W)e haven’t even started to talk about what might be ‘possible’ and are still mostly arguing about what is ‘feasible without compromising economic growth.’ These are of course extremely different things, and the latter will not get us anywhere near the 1.5 degrees C target.”
In an essay in the run up to COP27, Indian activist and journalist Bharat Dogra echoes Dr. Matthews: ‘we do what we can do’ and not ‘what really needs to be done’. Dogra points out that mitigation is “increasingly based on con-games and deceptions of the big polluters” and “the most obvious and rational solutions are neglected.” with “promoters of false solutions, distorting the entire agenda even more”.
Recently, climate activist Anjali Appadurai, running for the BC NDP leadership before she was disqualified, spoke truth to power Greta-like: “Slowly drawing down emissions year by year, that’s actually not how we’re going to achieve any kind of meaningful climate action…. I think we do need to acknowledge that we’re failing on this file and in a related way failing on several other files because the climate crisis intersects across all parts of society and the economy.”
Appadurai ran to draw attention to how negligent the BC NDP government is on climate. In our emergency existential climate danger, our governmental climate mitigation programs like CleanBC are just time-wasters.
What we need from a BC NDP government is to end LNG, stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure expansion; begin regulating a managed decline of gas and coal production; and end the timber management of BC forests which is turning important, long lasting carbon sinks into huge sources of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), amplifying global warming.
To stick with ineffectual pretend mitigation like CleanBC or the Canadian federal Liberal government’s puny carbon tax, flexregs,and taxpayer support for unicorns like carbon capture and storage (CCS), or even the too little too late Inflationary Reduction Act in the US, is profound implicatory denial.
Mitigating climate is now life or death isn’t it? Well then, why do we still have governmental mitigation plans that allow the continued production, even the increasing production for export, of a substance that is now an existential threat to humanity?
Because fossil fuels are the lifeblood of our global society and life as we know and want it needs fossil fuels. Needs like in addiction. Hence denial.
But not mitigating effectively for three decades has left us in a place where we need GHG emission reductions of at least half by 2030. Urgent systemic-level change is now needed but this isn’t possible in our economy which requires long term stability to nurture the complex business ecosystems we are all dependent upon. Hence, denial.
And so we don’t do what really needs to be done; we have pretend, ineffectual mitigation; GHG emissions continue to rise; and there is a lot of Blah-Blah-Blah from those who should be responsible and from the chorus of appeasers.
But soon it will be 2030, BC and Canada didn’t halt fossil fuel expansion, didn’t regulate a wind-down of fossil fuel production, and didn’t do what was needed to protect forests (for all of their values but most especially as carbon sinks). Our governments couldn’t and didn’t and now it really is too late and we’re doomed.
In the run up to COP27 the Executive Director of the UN Environmental program (UNEP) Inger Anderson was quoted: “We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.”
To advocate for slow, incremental, pretend mitigation today, at the end of 2022, instead of root and branch transformation is denial. A governmental climate mitigation plan that doesn’t regulate a wind-down of fossil fuel production and mandate increased protection of forests and other ecosystems important to climate mitigation is continuing denial and appeasement.
Are there no climate leaders who recognize the degree of climate danger and Canada’s responsibility as a major fossil fuel producer (and/or the history of and responsibility for accumulating GHG emissions)?
Bill Henderson is a long-time climate activist and Counter Currents contributer bhenderson(at)dccnet(dot)com