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The plane truth

05 Jun 2019 | News Roundup

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change was in Newfoundland on May 23, pointing a trembling finger at icebergs. Which might seem innocent, even part of her job. But she had been in Ottawa on the 15th, was in Vancouver on the 28th and had returned to Ottawa by the 30th. And she didn’t travel by sailing ship, ox cart or as Prince Charles once did to address an environmental gathering, by GHG-limiting holographic projector. Nope. She flew, leaving a trail of carbon so massive it could have been her boss (who just flew to BC himself to meet some mayors).

Now Ms. McKenna may say that saving the planet is hard work and requires much travel. And yes, politicians do work very hard and have punishing schedules. They put in long hours, study briefings, shake hands, knock on doors, attend meetings, confer with staff and colleagues, get up early, go to bed late and travel endlessly. They favour air travel because it is comfortable, reliable and it saves time. But when they insist that your desire for comfort, reliability and efficiency counts for nothing compared to the urgency of their cause, then hop onto one plane after another, it boils down to one set of rules for you ordinary schlumps and quite another for the elite, important, smart, busy people entitled to their entitlements.

You pay more to fill your car to get to your boring job; you pay more to heat your house and cook your food; you scrimp and save and go without. (Not too much, though, with an election coming. We’ll keep the carbon tax modest until later.) But we fly first class, take limousines to posh hotels and put it all on the public tab because hey, we’re worth it.

Evidently it escaped the irony-challenged Minister that she and a host of other concerned virtuous important people were flying to Vancouver, many across oceans, to “discuss a future with a cleaner environment” as well as the usual boilerplate about “gender equality, youth and Indigenous peoples in clean energy, and… Canada as an investment destination” where you can’t build a pipeline or ship oil. Or that she’d flown to Newfoundland the previous week to host a “Climate Change Roundtable” and make various ill-founded remarks about extreme weather. It was especially awkward that while in Newfoundland she actually posted a video of herself in a bar telling people “we’ve learned in the House of Commons, if you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it.”

So shout it on out. I care so much about the environment that I have to emit as many GHGs in a week as most of you do in a year, and you have to emit less so I can save you from yourselves. Totally believe it.

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