Citizen Action Monitor

Disappointed that Climate Lobby Canada applauds government’s clean tech report

Open letter to CCL notes absence of reasons to justify unqualified endorsement of report.

No 1998 Posted by fw, July 4, 2017

Today I sent the following email to Cathy Orlando, National Director, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada.

Dear Cathy Orlando,

Re: CCL’s press release of June 20, 2017, which urges the Government of Canada to adopt the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (RNNR) on de-risking clean technology adoption, I am writing to explain why I am so disappointed with your group’s unqualified endorsement of this report.

First, this brief backgrounder. As the publisher/editor of Citizen Action Monitor, an eclectic online news- and information-filtering publication, the urgency of the climate crisis has recently captured most of my attention. It is no exaggeration to state that the crisis is an existential threat to all life on earth.

I do not claim to be an authority on climate science or ecological economics. However, five years of reading authoritative reports in these and related fields has equipped me with a reasonably well-informed understanding of some of the real and immediate impacts and threats of climate change.

Turning to my disappointment with CCL’s unqualified endorsement of the RNNR report, apart from quoting excerpts from the document in your press release, I was surprised not to find at least a few compelling reasons to justify your endorsement.

In my opinion, if CCL is going to publicly endorse reports like RNNR’s, I suggest it has a responsibility to its members and the public at large to justify, even briefly, its recommendations. Otherwise, CCL is left open to questioning from citizens, like me, your team’s qualifications to make these kinds of pronouncements. What if it turns out that your endorsement was not deserved?

To avoid a blemish on CCL’s reputation, I further suggest adding to your website the names of key members, along with a brief note of their climate related qualifications and experience.

Turning to the RNNR report itself, this is neither the time nor place to compose a detailed critical analysis. Based on a cursory reading, my opinion is that the report does not deserve public support. Contrary to the claim of de-risking, adoption of this so-called “clean technology” report will increase Canada’s, and the world’s exposure to elevated climate change risks.

Prime Minister Trudeau must be faulted for advancing a deeply flawed neoliberal belief that now serves as an overarching, ideological anchor for his government’s climate related policies and programs — On March 5, 2016, the PM announced: “We will grow our economy while reducing emissions. We will capitalize on the opportunity of a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy to create good-paying and long-term jobs.

The RNNR report reflects this ideology. For example, it fails to acknowledge that time is not on our side. As UK climate scientist Kevin Anderson points out, low carbon energy technology can’t be built fast enough to keep us within the 2°C threshold. Anderson does the math to back up his blunt warning that wealthy countries like Canada must be carbon free by 2035. Our chances of meeting that target are slim to none. In his words: “So, this is an enormous challenge beyond anything that is currently being countenanced by any country.” The challenge is certainly not being faced by the Liberal government.

One other example. RNNR’s focus on so-called clean technology-based GDP growth is a recipe for disaster. As sustainability consultant Riccardo Mastini contends, perpetuating a growth-oriented, business-as-usual, climate change remedy, embedded in our consumer-driven capitalist system, is incompatible with life on a planet with finite resources. Calling for continuous growth is at odds with social well-being and environmental sustainability.

Bottom line, Anderson and Mastini offer valid reasons for rejecting RNNR’s oxymoronic “de-risking” report.

I urge you and your colleagues to reconsider your endorsement.

In closing, I intend to publish this email on my website. If you care to make any comments, I would be pleased to add them.

Yours truly,

Frank White, etc.

Postscript: I thanked Ms. Orlando for her prompt response to my letter, apologizing for not having time to respond in detail to every email received. She expressed understanding that everyone has to do what they feel is necessary to help make sure we leave behind a liveable world for future generations.

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