It has been a long time since I have heard so much debate in the House about carbon taxes and climate plans. Unfortunately, none of it is focused on the climate crisis. It is the ultimate irony – I hear the words, but the issue is ignored.
We should be talking about the science. We should, as Parliamentarians, regardless of party, be acting responsibly as the evidence piles up. Every day it seems there is new evidence, always more worrying. Climate change is no longer creeping slowly. It is galloping, spurred on by dangerous feed-back loops. The Arctic ice is shrinking in ways that spell danger for all of us, permafrost is melting threatening the release of vast deposits of methane (a very powerful greenhouse gas), oceans are acidifying, food production is threatened, and around the world lives are lost in extreme events from floods to fires to mudslides to tropical storms and tornadoes. We should be talking about how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible in hopes of avoiding ever-more-likely runaway global warming. I don’t like thinking about- or worse, talking about, the worst case scenarios of global warming. But former French President Sarkozy was right: the survival of human civilization is at risk.
Those are not the words of the leaders of the mainstream parties. In the House, we get a Punch and Judy show of feigned outrage. Instead of talking about what we should be doing, the main parties are stuck in a Mobius loop of distortion. Yesterday, I couldn’t finish asking a question due to the heckling of the NDP caucus. What was the trigger for otherwise civil folks, many of them people I love, to act out so rudely? I had the effrontery to mention that there had once been a plan to meet Kyoto targets.
I did not do so to laud the Liberal record. The Liberal record is one of broken promises starting when Jean Chretien dumped the promise in the 1993 Red Book to reduce GHG by 20% below 1988 levels by 2005. I am cursed with a good memory. I remember the day we found out Chretien would not allow the federal, provincial, multi-stakeholder taskforce even to analyze carbon taxes as a possible mechanism to meet the Liberal target. I remember his trip with Anne McLellan to the oil sands to drop a few billion and promise rapid development. I remember feeling like I’d just been sucker-punched.