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Have alarmism, will travel

06 Nov 2019 | News Roundup

The UN is holding yet another carbon- and celebrity-intensive gabfest to say warming is bad and we must change our ways and if we weren’t all here yapping we’d surely be doing something really great to save the Earth. But where? Like the flying Dutchman, “COP25” (the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) was originally supposed to be in Brazil but got evicted to Santiago, and now will decamp to Madrid Spain. … if, that is, the Spanish can pull off a miracle before Dec. 2. COP25 was chased out of Brazil by a skeptical government (peeved, perhaps, at being blamed for a phony Amazon forest fire crisis) then, worse, from Chile by skeptical people rioting over the misery caused by high energy prices. Not a good look for the hugely popular, prosperity-enhancing transition to clean energy that has awkwardly left the non-flying Swedish scold pleading for carbon-free help to get from the Americas to Spain. Seems transportation without fuel is a genuine challenge.

It is very telling that it’s the 25th Conference of the Parties (since 1995) and so little has been achieved since the caviar started flowing that, according to the professional worry-wart class, we now have just 12 years left to save the world instead of the presumably 36 we had when they began. For the Spanish government to meet the organizational challenge of hosting a giant conference on barely a month’s notice would be a miracle logistically. But hardly the miracle that’s needed on substance since the previous 24 Conferences, or at any rate the 21 since the 3rd in Kyoto in 1997, have run fairly smoothly but have run in place, getting nowhere fast. For now the miracle we’d settle for would be honest discussion about finding climate policies that don’t wreck our lives and, as in Chile, arouse so much hostility that they chase the alarmists out of town.

As James Taylor notes on Watts Up With That, the Chilean government is blaming the riots that forced cancellation of the summit on the high price of gas which is cheaper than it was a year ago and than it was five years ago. Governments will always tell you, of course, that they are responsible for everything that goes well and mere innocent bystanders when anything goes wrong, up to and including the departure of major energy companies from Canada for the United States in the face of bad world markets for oil and gas rather than the impossibility of building pipelines and getting the world price. For instance.

Notwithstanding, Taylor notes that gas in Chile cost $1.12 per litre in August, $1.28 a year ago and $1.50 five years back. So why the riots? Because the transit system in Santiago, the capital, is raising its fares to cover the cost of… oh dear… switching most of its energy to wind and solar from fossil fuels, and imposing Latin America’s first carbon tax on what remains.

It’s a modest tax even by the big-talking standards of our own government, just $5 per tonne. But Chileans are a lot poorer than Canadians and it is going to hurt them, as higher transit fares do as well. We do not endorse rioting, of course. (Unlike Emmanuel Macron, now being chided by the usual suspects for having encouraged climate agitation, like Greta Thunberg, only to teargas Extinction Rebellion protestors who are driving normal people nuts with their antics protesting Macron’s failure to get rid of fuel.) Ballots not bullets (or rocks) please. But if governments won’t listen to popular anger, they’re going to get voted out. (Yes, we know, Canadians just gave a majority of seats in their federal Parliament to parties that want carbon taxes. But not high carbon taxes.)

If there really were a vast number of well-paying or, in Canadian parlance, “middle-class” green jobs lurking around the corner it wouldn’t matter. But if there aren’t, don’t bother flying to Spain to wish there were.

P.S. With Greta Thunberg complaining that she just sailed across the Atlantic to Chile and now needs help getting back to Europe dare we suggest that flying is much more efficient even than your rich buddies’ expensive sailboats? (Which might also be why the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund is offering to pay airfare for people to come and think of ways to ban the use of natural gas for cooking?) Or that the reason the COPs keep meeting in Europe (six of the last eight) is that countries with lots of abundant energy are way better at meeting every challenge from feeding the masses to coping with disaster to pulling off a big conference in a hurry?

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