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

This concept artwork from July 2020 shows the inland port planned for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site in Terrace. (Image courtesy Hatha Callis, Progressive Ventures Group)
Terrace city council approves inland port OCP amendments

Project still requires zoning bylaw, development permit to continue

This copper frog pendant was made by Jamika Aksidan, a young Nisga’a artist who was recently recognized with an award for her work. (Photo courtesy Nisga’a Museum)
Nisga’a youth artist wins award

Award includes $500, exhibition in Nisga’a Museum

A BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read