There are many reasons to think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should not have gone to Costa Rica for a leisurely two-week Christmas break. Is there nowhere suitable in Canada? Might not some international crisis require his attention? But from the point of view of this newsletter the big question is the hypocrisy concerning his carbon footprint. At least the annoying Greta Thunberg takes sailboats, albeit with people flying hither and yon to make it happen. Trudeau traveled by private jet, or possibly two as on his election campaign, while even British PM Boris Johnson flew commercial to St. Lucia. Evidently the rest of us can eat cake.
While the details of the PM’s vacations are not made public for obvious security reasons (though he seems to have been sighted in Santa Teresa, a “quintessential surf town”) odds are he’s at a fancy resort and possibly, as in the Bahamas trip, there will be jet skis for his security detail and other carbon-unfriendly features like, well, his security detail, who probably didn’t paddle-board down to join him.
If it were an isolated incident it might be considered an isolated incident. But how about the fact that Canada sent 156 people to the latest UN climate-fest in Madrid? (After sending 283 to Paris in 2015.) It’s not to get things done. Everybody knows that, as Richard Nixon said, the real work at international conferences is done ahead of time to avoid embarrassing failure. And in this era of the Interwebs and cheap long-distance phone calls, whatever must be done last-minute can be done by 100 people in their offices back home as easily, or indeed more easily, than in hotel rooms.
As for what sort of hotels they were staying in, well, as with the PM in Costa Rica, not the kind you and I stay in. Because this conference was a junket. And a hypocritical one even by the standards of junkets. According to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, the emissions for 156 flights to Madrid and back would be about 165 tonnes, more than 40 average Canadian households emit in a year. And for what?
How can you ask? Among those in attendance was Senator Rosa Galvez, “Vice-Chair of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas and Vice President (North America) of ParlAmericas’ Parliamentary Network on Climate Change” who explained that “This was the first year that ParlAmericas’ International Secretariat has participated in the annual UN climate change conference as an official observer organization. Through the participation of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas at COP 25, we were able to engage on the most pressing issue humanity faces today.” And no amount is too high for an observer you never heard of with a 19-word title in an outfit you never heard of to engage.
Certainly Sen. Galvez couldn’t be asked to engage on climate from dreary old Ottawa. Just as obviously Elizabeth May had to crisscross the country during the election, attending events in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Saanich in the space of a single 24-hour period because otherwise her party might only have won a handful of seats. Whereas for you to heat your house or drive to work is a reckless extravagance.
In exposing the hypocrisy of delegates in Madrid munching away at Burger King, on real meat, while claiming the rest of us needed to stop eating it, Craig Rucker of CFACT also noted that those in attendance included Harrison Ford, who “bragged not long ago that he’s ‘so passionate about flying’ that he would often hop in one of his planes and ‘fly up the coast for a cheeseburger.’” Ford now claims to have given up meat. But not his private planes, of which he owns roughly 10.
The smell of cake is unmistakable, as with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and now-vegan Al Gore, both of whom frequently use private planes of which Gates owns at least one. Their work is so important that they just have to do stuff you mustn’t. “I am investing in climate change very broadly and substantial amounts of money,” says Gates, while one of Gore’s people charged with fending off pesky proles intones that “He recognizes how important these everyday choices are, while spending most of his time working to catalyze a global effort to change laws and policies.” Now go away, and no questions about his energy-gobbling mansion complete with heated outdoor pool.
I have been trying for the past year to get politicians to commit to reducing their personal use of air travel, and their government's use of air travel, by a measly 3% per year for the next 30 years. Just to lead by example in the effort to reduce the government's carbon footprint. You can't claim a climate emergency, and then continue spewing out carbon on government junkets as if fossil fuels were going out of style. Nobody in the media thinks this is a worthy proposal to put to any of our crusading politicians, though.