• The Low Down

Canada is a climate criminal

The latest IPCC climate report once again raises alarm bells to the quickly closing window for climate action. The report makes clear that we are in a now or never moment, warning that the earth is firmly on track toward an unlivable world, while calling for “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in greenhouse emissions, which must peak within three years.


Alas, the federal Liberals’ recently released climate plan is the latest installment in a decades-long series of business-as-usual proposals that demonstrate clearly whose interests elected officials align with. Carbon sinks, markets, trading, offsets, credits, taxes and solutions championed by political elites of all stripes, have been monumental failures. We can now add “capture” to the farcical carbon fix list.


In an open letter to Chrystia Freeland, 400 Canadian climate scientists and other academics warn that the planned tax credits, meant to incentivize industry investment in costly and unproven carbon capture technology, “will constitute a substantial new fossil fuel subsidy” — contradicting the government’s promise to eliminate subsidies, as well as “prolong the use of fossil fuels.” Unsurprisingly, Canada’s energy regulator predicts oil production in Canada will increase by more than a million barrels a day by 2030. And now, days after UN Secretary General Guterres called out business and government leaders for lying and stating "investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness," we learn of the approval of the Bay du Nord offshore oil megaproject.


It is not only madness, it is criminal — another nail in the coffin of the horrendous future we are knowingly orchestrating for future generations.


Despite government and media rhetoric, this is not a step in the right direction. A growing recognition within the scientific community that nothing short of transformative change – an achievable idea that they warn will be vigorously opposed by vested interests – will allow humanity to address the climate crisis. This not-so-radical idea, which much of the public already expects, continues to elude policymakers.


Many are awakening to the ugly truths of a rigged system and the need for social reforms and transformation, which not only talk of justice and sustainability, but deliver it. A just transition act promised by Trudeau in the 2019 election remains a distant dream.


Early pandemic support for essential workers and programs like CERB have quickly dried up, while corporate profits have soared. Profiteering in a time of multiple crises is reprehensible; allowing it to happen is equally so. Yet few of our elected officials have challenged the moneyed interests that grow ever more powerful in parallel with the moral, spiritual and physical decay of our world.


Vagner Castilho is a resident of Wakefield and member of La Pêche Coalition for a Green New Deal/La Coalition de La Pêche pour une New Deal Verte.