Burlington Northern Santa Fe train hauls one of many daily loads of thermal coal from Wyoming along White Rock beach, for export to Asia power plants. Shipments through B.C. ports jumped after California, Oregon and Washington stopped shipments from their ports. (Michael Chu/Flickr)

Burlington Northern Santa Fe train hauls one of many daily loads of thermal coal from Wyoming along White Rock beach, for export to Asia power plants. Shipments through B.C. ports jumped after California, Oregon and Washington stopped shipments from their ports. (Michael Chu/Flickr)

B.C. VIEWS: Politicians grasp at straws, avoid climate policy reality

It doesn’t matter what parties offer in the fall Canadian election

Sorry to interrupt your peaceful, smoke-free summer, but the dark clouds of confusion and contradiction gathering on the horizon are the first signs of a looming federal election.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set the tone at a recent $1,500-a-plate party fundraiser in Vancouver, after his official business of announcing partial funding for 10 new electric buses for Victoria – in 2021. Yes, the prime ministerial jet, motorcade and all that were deployed across the country to announce the latest bold move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the swanky dinner, Trudeau pledged to avoid divisive and negative politics, and warned about those bad Conservatives who are fighting his national carbon tax.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario are headed for the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to set their own policies. Not B.C. though. The John Horgan NDP government is battling Trudeau’s oil pipeline project, but not his $20-per-tonne minimum national carbon tax.

B.C.’s carbon tax is already twice that high, and Horgan’s NDP is currently in favour of raising it more, while at the same time grilling petroleum companies about the rising cost of gasoline.

“Here in B.C., you really matter,” Trudeau assured well-heeled Liberal Party donors in his drama-teacher style. “You are a province of people who get it. Who understand that the way to positive growth is to invest in the environment.”

With due respect to our dear leader, I doubt that B.C. residents “get it,” if “it” is the logic of the federal government’s strategy to combat what is now ritually referred to as the “climate emergency.” I suspect this is one reason why Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have been trying to change the channel to plastic bags and drinking straws.

Token bans on plastic items here are as unlikely to stop the vast outpouring of ocean pollution from rivers in China, India and Vietnam as a few electric buses are to stop the huge and increasing use of carbon-emitting fuels in Asia and around the world.

RELATED: Too many coal trains through White Rock, resident says

RELATED: Trudeau, Horgan announce 10 electric buses for Victoria

Indeed, B.C.’s current $40-per-tonne carbon tax isn’t lowering emissions here. They have continued to increase since a recession-induced dip ended in 2010. Granted, per-capita emissions are declining, but that’s largely a result of urbanization and industrial struggles.

Here’s a sample of the international scene. Reuters news agency reported this spring that China added 194 million tonnes of coal mining capacity in 2018, bringing its total capacity to 3.53 billion tonnes by the end of that year. To put that in perspective, Canada’s total coal production is about 63 million tonnes, meaning China’s expansion for 2018 alone is more than three Canadas.

China’s People’s Daily reported last week that its Menghua Railway is due for completion in October. The country’s longest line at 1,837 km, it is dedicated to carrying 200 million tonnes of coal each year from Inner Mongolia to Jianxi in eastern China.

Closer to home, the Port of Vancouver reports that it shipped 37.6 million tonnes of coal in 2018, with India being one of the biggest markets. That’s mostly metallurgical coal, but thermal coal shipments to India started in 2018, after U.S. west coast ports refused to ship it.

As our federal election begins to unfold, you will hear about other unlikely plans from the Conservatives, NDP and Greens to meet Canada’s solemn 2015 commitment in Paris to reduce emissions. That’s the commitment developed by the Stephen Harper government that remains Trudeau’s target.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureClimate change

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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island University. (File photo)
Province announces funding for VIU to train mental health workers

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

The City of Nanaimo’s Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St., where the 7-10 Club is located, will host a warming centre seven days a week through March 31. (City of Nanaimo photo)
Warming centres for people experiencing homelessness open today in Nanaimo

City of Nanaimo and social agencies partnering on Wallace and Prideaux locations

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
AUDIO: Interview with broadcaster and Island resident Terry David Mulligan

PQBeat podcast asks Nanoose Bay resident about radio and TV career, wine and more

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)
New executive director leading Nanaimo hospice at a time when grief counselling is greatly needed

Paige Karczynski takes over as Nanaimo Community Hospice Society begins its 40th year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hiker among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Incident happened at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Most Read