Justin Trudeau should keep Greta Thunberg’s name out of his mouth

Announcing a new pledge to reduce emissions while standing in the shadow of the massive new pipeline he’s pushing through is both illogical and immoral
Photo: Sally T. Buch
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Justin Trudeau held a press conference Tuesday morning in Burnaby, B.C., calling climate change “our great global challenge.”

As he touted the Liberals’ commitment to a green energy transition, slammed right-wing climate deniers, and invoked the work of activist sensation Greta Thunberg, Trudeau was speaking in the shadow of his own plans to massively expand fossil fuel infrastructure.

Trudeau’s presser was held at a clean technology company’s facility located just a couple of kilometres from the Kinder Morgan tank farm on the slope of Burnaby Mountain, through which Trudeau has pledged to build a massive new “twinned” pipeline.

Establishment politicians all over the world are aiming to discursively co-opt Greta Thunberg and the climate strike, while avoiding the radical implications and demands of the movement.

“Last Friday, we saw historic demonstrations for climate action around the world,” Trudeau said in Burnaby, referring to the global climate strike actions taking place all this week. “We are living in a pivotal, breathtaking moment … people are waking up. And it’s because young people, led by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, are driving the conversation.”

Trudeau should keep Greta Thunberg’s name out of his mouth, because he’s exactly the kind of climate hypocrite the Swedish teen so sharply rebukes.

In recent days a number of Liberal politicians have praised Thunberg, whose speech at the UN Monday resonated around the world.

The Swedish teen’s actual words, and her previous statements about Canada, are aimed precisely at the kind of contradiction between climate rhetoric and action that Trudeau and his Liberal government represent.

The climate strike is a youth-led grassroots movement responding to governments like Canada’s that have failed abysmally to match their climate rhetoric with effective climate action. Establishment politicians all over the world are aiming to discursively co-opt Thunberg and the climate strike, while avoiding the radical implications and demands of the movement.

The Liberal leader’s nice words on climate represent his latest effort to pivot away from a disastrous news cycle, but his campaign rhetoric is belied by his lack of specific policy action to reduce emissions, plans to expand fossil fuel infrastructure like the Trans Mountain pipeline, and the Liberals’ still-inadequate timetable for reducing emissions.

Trudeau’s climate announcement comes on the same day the UK Labour Park voted at their convention to adopt a bold Green New Deal aiming for economic and social transformation to achieve decarbonization by 2030.

Tuesday’s media event was part of the Liberals’ rollout of the announcement they’ll commit Canada to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The target coincides with commitments made by the European Union and over sixty other countries. The Liberals mid-century pledge echoes statements made by a number of countries at the UN climate action summit taking place this week in New York.

The bulk of Trudeau’s extended remarks on climate were aimed at framing the election as a binary choice between Conservatives and Liberals.

We have to move faster than ever before; we have to keep going … This will require us to slash our emissions and transform our economy … It’s an ambitious target, but it’s doable.

The Conservatives want to bury their heads in the sand. They have no plan to reduce emissions. They have no plan for the future ... Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer: these politicians are all the same when it comes to climate and the environment. They just don’t care and they just don’t get it.

Trudeau’s climate announcement comes on the same day the UK Labour Park voted at their convention to adopt a bold Green New Deal aiming for economic and social transformation to achieve decarbonization by 2030. That’s the scale of ambition required by any politician claiming climate leadership.

The Liberals far less ambitious commitment to decarbonize by mid-century is belied by their own actions like pushing forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Given what the world’s leading scientists have told us about the dangers of catastrophic climate disruption, the Liberals’ contradictory climate and energy policies are both illogical and immoral.

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