Another View: Climate talks end 2014 in disarray

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press

B.C. Views

In case you missed the outcome of the latest United Nations climate change conference in Lima, Peru, it was another costly, embarrassing failure.

This one is likely to be remembered mostly for a staggeringly stupid stunt by Greenpeace employees, who were threatened with prosecution for defacing the Nazca Lines, a world heritage site in the Peruvian desert.

These vast 1,500-year-old petroglyphs, visible from space, are among the great mysteries of archaeology. “Time for a change!” blared huge yellow letters dragged across the sacred site by paid protesters trampling the delicate terrain. I’ll say it’s time for a change, starting with scratching Greenpeace off your Christmas card list.

Earlier there was the spectacle of Canada’s national media, reflexively denouncing Ottawa’s supposed inaction on greenhouse gases after U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a surprise climate agreement with China in advance of Peru.

“Over to you, Mr. Prime Minister,” chirped CBC anchor Wendy Mesley, joining other TV networks in falsely portraying the U.S. deal as a breakthrough.

This non-binding gesture soon produced many cartoons, one of which shows Obama stripped to his underwear in a poker game with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is surrounded by a pile of chips and an American flag.

The U.S.-China announcement served as a preview of Peru, where developing countries would again refuse any substantive restrictions on their fuel use. China graciously agreed to continue ramping up its world-leading greenhouse gas emissions until 2030, while lame-duck Obama pretended he could commit the U.S. to further reductions.

Between them, the U.S. and China account for about half of global human-caused carbon emissions. Due mostly to the surge from China and India, Canada’s share has fallen from two per cent to 1.5, which should help put all those “tar sands” protests into perspective.

Days later, Environment Canada released its latest national emission statistics, an event ignored by most media.

“Between 2005 and 2012, total Canadian GHG emissions decreased by 5.1 per cent, while the economy grew by 10.6 per cent over the same period,” the report states.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak joined the throngs who jetted to Lima. There she met officials from California and other U.S. states to re-announce their modest efforts to put a price on carbon emissions. TV anchors and other wide-eyed innocents might have been left with the mistaken impression that the huge U.S. petroleum industry is cutting back, when in fact it has grown enormously thanks to shale oil and gas production.

And California continues to produce, by its own state government measure, the most carbon-intensive heavy crude in North America.

Overshadowing all of this is the drop in the world price of oil, mainly the result of Saudi Arabia flooding the market in an effort to push competitors out of business. In the latest sign of the U.S. public’s lack of interest in reducing emissions, sales of larger vehicles immediately spiked up as gasoline prices fell.

I’m still receiving criticism for a recent column in which I declared myself an “agnostic” on human-caused global warming. Agnostic means searcher, and my search has continued for real signs of climate change and its potential causes.

Our glaciers are receding, no question, but the current trend started around the 1850s, when a sport utility vehicle had one horsepower in leather harness and B.C. was about to be declared a British colony.

But amid the noise, there is serious evidence being put forward that our province is undergoing a climate shift with major consequences. And there are calls for action.

I’ll discuss that next week.

 

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

Intruder breaks into Langford couple’s home

The intruder was high and thought the house was his

Visiting Vimy Ridge: Saanich teen set for historic summer tour

Mount Douglas student John Evans will tour historic war sites

Greater Victoria youth earn Scouts’ highest honour

21 youth receive Chief Scout’s Award from lieutenant governor

Lessons learned: City reflects on bike lane construction

Councillors and City staff said there are better strategies to apply to new bike lanes

Council scraps other ideas; JSB steel will only be used for art

City staff wanted an open bid to get rid of steel that’s coated in toxic lead paint

VIDEO: 75th Swiftsure International Yacht Race

‘A happy boat is a fast boat’

Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Justin Trudeau’s infamous trip to India earlier this year was the focus of many of the jabs

B.C. VIEWS: Our poverty reduction plan is already in place

NDP has another promise it needs to appear to keep

WestJet pilot strike averted as parties agree to mediation

Pilots had warned they could go on strike starting May 19

Out of control wildfire prompts restriction around Allie Lake

One of the first large wildfires of the 2018 season is blazing out of control

Performing Arts Provincial Festival comes to UVic

More than 600 performers will take part in festival running May 29 to June 2

Passersby help rescue occupants of home as fire breaks out in Courtenay

Coffee run turns into fire rescue for pair of men

Most Read