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

Volunteer Robbie McKnight works the screening table at the Coast Mountain College COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
UPDATE Smithers clinic expands vaccine eligibility to ages 55+

Community members born in 1966 or earlier can now register and will be notified when they can book

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal shipped its first vessel full of liquefied petroleum gas on April 9, just less than three years after breaking ground at the re-purposed pulp mill site on Watson Island.
Pembina ships first vessel of LPG out of Prince Rupert

More than $12 million spent to repurpose Watson Island for the LPG export facility

Styrofoam burning at the Woodmere Tree Nursery in Telka created billowing black smoke over Tyhee Lake and resulted in air quality advisory for Bulkley Valley. (Contributed photo)
VIDEO: Telkwa styrofoam fire air quality advisory lifted

A woodpile fire at Woodmere Tree Nursery spread to styrofoam blocks causing air quality concerns

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

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

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Most Read