It’s being greeted with joy, disappointment and even hostility, but after two weeks of talks, 196 nations have signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
They agreed the fossil fuel era must end and they have a somewhat ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions along with avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change. Or something like that.
The happy people say the agreement sends a powerful message to global markets to move away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. Environmental journalist George Monboit says that compared to what it could have been, the agreement is a miracle. Compared to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. Climate change scientist James Hansen calls the agreement a fraud, no action, just promises. Premier Christy Clark and Green Party MP Elizabeth May like it. I think the miracle is that 196 nations managed to agree on anything. It will take more miracles to get some action.
In Williams Lake, we talk about the weather, not climate change. Every day is a surprise. Downtown on Monday, I saw people coatless, an equal number bundled up with toques and scarves, and two men in shorts. Local environmental issues are the Mount Polley Mine reopening, Atlantic Power’s bid to burn railroad ties, and an occasional thought as to what Gibraltar Mine is up to.
In other news, some public servants have blown the whistle on Canada’s tax system, claiming shortfalls and political meddling have lost Canada Revenue billions of dollars. If that gets fixed, the Trudeau government might find itself richer than expected.
On the provincial scene, retired civil servant Bob Plecas, in reviewing the scandal- ridden operations of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, blames B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, the media, and the Opposition for picking on the Ministry. While he found the ministry understaffed and underfunded, he says critics have put a “culture of blame” on the operation. He is recommending a $50 million addition to the ministry budget. He hasn’t said how to make all the critics shut up.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.