Originally published on The ECOreport.
Some believe the pan-Canadian climate plan is an important milestone on the pathway to mid-century decarbonization. The federal government and provinces have agreed to “adopt strengthened building codes, to implement an effective clean fuels standard, and to increase the carbon price after 2022.” However, Saskatchewan did not sign the agreement and Premiers like Christy Clark and Rachel Notley only did so because they were given “flexibility” to expand their provinces’ fossil fuel infrastructure. Future generations may look back upon the Trudeau era as the peak of LNG and oil sands development. We need climate Churchills, not Chamberlains.
Chamberlain (left) and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 23 September 1938 from Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H12751 / CC BY-SA 3.0
We Need Climate Churchills, Not Chamberlains
Some modern historians will interpret that statement as a misunderstanding of the times. The British Empire was not prepared for another World War, especially if France sat on the sidelines. Chamberlain’s cabinet recognized it was “beyond the resources of this country to make proper provision in peace for defence of the British Empire against three major powers in three different theatres of war.”
To preserve the peace, Britain did not interfere with Adolf Hitler’s plans to make Germany great again. In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, he remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936. Two years later, Nazi Germany absorbed Austria and annexed the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
Chamberlain’s apologists tend to overlook the fact that the German army was not prepared for war either. If Britain and France had stuck up for Czechoslovakia, elements of the German army would have marched against Hitler. World War II might have been averted, or assumed less costly dimensions.
The situation was very different when the Nazi war machine tried out the blitzkrieg on Poland, in September 1939. Chamberlain is largely remembered as “an upright, competent, well meaning man” whose failure to act made World War II inevitable. Churchill, who advocated confronting Hitler from the beginning, guided the Empire through its darkest hours to victory.
The Threat Of Climate Change
In 1939, the world was threatened by militaristic demagogues like Hitler and Mussolini. The key to peace in our time is keeping the rise of global temperatures in check.
As Environment Minister Catherine McKenna recently admitted:
“Earlier this month, the United Nations released a report. It said that 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history. Before that, 2015 was the hottest year. And before that, it was 2014. Month by month, year by year, decade by decade, we see overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change and its world-altering impact. And Canada is certainly not immune.”
Most of the nation’s First Ministers agreed in their joint communiqué. “From increased heat waves, droughts, flooding, and thawing permafrost, changes to the Earth’s climate can be seen and felt by all Canadians. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Canada’s North. We are already facing the social and economic costs of climate change which poses significant risk to our environment, as well as to our health, security, and future prosperity.”
Canada’s First Ministers recognize the threat, but the nation’s economy is based on fast cash obtained through natural resource extraction.
Peace In Our Time?
Similar to Chamberlain, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is attempting to appease Canada’s provincial governments by letting their emissions-heavy fossil fuel projects go forward.
Two more pipelines have been approved, to carry diluted bitumen out of Alberta. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will go forward into British Columbia’s most populated area. The Line 3 Replacement Project will connect Alberta and Manitoba.
Though the proposed LNG facility on Lelu Island could become Canada’s largest carbon polluter, Trudeau’s government approved it. They are also green-lighting the proposed Woodfibre LNG terminal and even more controversial Site C Dam.
Canada will foster development of its cleantech sector and energy efficiency projects, using an “all of the above” energy strategy similar to that of outgoing US President Barack Obama’s.
More definitive climate action will be deferred until 2022, during which time “federal, provincial and territorial governments will work together to establish a review of carbon pricing. …”
“Once again Canada lets the slowest province set the pace on climate change which is exactly what today was supposed to fix. More than ever the moment calls for bold leadership, but we continue to bow to the lowest common denominator,” said Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner.
Meanwhile opportunities to help keep the average global emissions rise below 2 degrees Celsius continues to slip away.
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