Climate talks end 2014 in disarray

Peru climate conference kicked off with everyone pretending China and Obama made a breakthrough, went downhill from there

Greenpeace employees dragged big yellow letters across the fragile desert crust of the Nazca Lines

Greenpeace employees dragged big yellow letters across the fragile desert crust of the Nazca Lines

VICTORIA – 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 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.Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

Chris testing out the potential new van with his caregiver Kerry. Photo submitted.
Kimberley man starts GoFundMe for urgently needed wheelchair accessible van

Christopher Green, a Kimberley native currently residing in Tata Creek, has launched… Continue reading

(stock photo)
Josh Dueck named Team Canada chef de mission for 2022 Beijing Paralympics

An acclaimed Paralympic champion with local roots has been named to a… Continue reading

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

What's happening at the Cranbrook Public Library
What’s on at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with some… Continue reading

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Most Read