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Climate Change Denial Has Taken On A New, More Insidious Form

10/24/2016 11:14 EDT | Updated 10/24/2016 11:15 EDT
Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 18: An Exxon Mobil refinery in silhouetted against the sky at dusk in Torrance, California, U.S., on Tuesday, September 18, 2007. California, the most-populous U.S. state, emitted the equivalent of 436.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 1990, according to a draft estimate of global warming pollution from the state's air-quality regulator. Heads of state and other top officials from more than 150 countries will attend the largest meeting ever of world leaders on climate change at the United Nations on September 24, 2007, in New York. (Photo by Jamie Rector/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Climate Denial, Version 2.0

For several decades, the urgency to fight climate change has been systematically paralyzed by the climate deniers. In order to deliberately create confusion in public opinion and block all concerted political action which might attempt to remedy the situation, the fossil fuel magnates have spent millions on pressure groups or bogus foundations. This new form of climate denial is described in the National Observer.

Like tobacco during the 80s, straight out denial doesn't wash anymore in public opinion.

ExxonMobil has been the keystone of the deniers. This company has financed pseudo-scientific institutes, which deny climate change; consider think tanks like The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or the Heartland Institute. Despite the fact that ExxonMobil has known about the reality of climate change since 1981, it publicly denied it; this is what an inquiry on the subject of this fraud reveals. Exxon risks costly lawsuits for this obvious bad faith.

In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau and his provincial counterparts (with the exception of Brad Wall of Saskatchewan) now agree that climate change is an indisputable reality; they firmly proclaim that they must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In theory, that is good! The catch is that a new form of denial, more subtle and more insidious than a straight out lie, can be found in the multitude of government actions which contradict what is said in public platforms. In other words, 'the walk doesn't match the talk'!

For example, M. Couillard says that he wants to protect Anticosti, but his government invests some $115 million to support the oil companies, which propose to "frack" the ''the pearl of the St Lawrence."

Likewise in international forums, our premier talks of reducing greenhouse gases, but, in 2014, he put in place the RPEP (Water Withdrawal and Protection Regulation) which is made to measure to allow fracking on Anticosti.

As for Bill 106, it contains a sop for the ecologists on the subject of energy transition, but the rest of the bill is so favourable to the oil industry that one would think that an industry lobbyist wrote it. And what can be said of the financing of the controversial cement plant at Port Daniel which will produce millions of tons of greenhouse gases; a succession of governments have pushed the art of the double-talk to the point of refusing a BAPE (environmental hearing)!

This holds true in the land of the tar sands; Alberta has made public a plan to cap greenhouse gases (GHG). With great fanfare, they announced they will close the coal power stations. At first blush we say bravo! But when we scratch a bit deeper than the headlines, this plan to cap permits a GROWTH in greenhouse gases. And, as if by coincidence, this growth in greenhouse gases is equivalent to what is necessary to allow for the construction of the Energy East pipeline.

At the federal level, former prime minister Harper was very favourable towards the tar sands; his successor, Mr. Trudeau claims that ''Canada is back'' by signing the accord of the Paris Conference with enthusiasm. However, he has done nothing to restore the environmental protections that the Harper reign demolished.

The objectives for greenhouse gas reductions of the Trudeau government remain the same as those of his predecessor. Worse, he authorizes the construction of the Pacific Northwest LNG pipeline to transport fracked natural gas to the Pacific ocean. According to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency(CEAA), that will have the effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from 6.5 to 8.7 million tons annually, that is, an increase of one per cent on the Canadian scale .

The version 2.0 of climate denial is a strategy diametrically opposed to the fine words proclaiming the fight against climate change. A few charming selfies are not sufficient to reduce greenhouse gases . As playwright Jean Racine said  in the classical drama Iphigénie: ''Il faut des actions et non pas des paroles'' [1] (Actions are needed, not words.)

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