Promises, Promises – Is Cop26 a Cop-out? asks reader

To the Editor:

Justin Trudeau has never met a promise he didn’t like – or one that he could keep.

He met a couple more in Scotland at COP26. (26! Good God, the world has been meeting on climate change since 1995 and we’re still cooking the earth!)

He promised – again – that he would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since he first made that promise in 2015, they’ve risen. We are now, per capita, the most polluting people in the world. Even the US has managed to bring down its emissions.

Trudeau promised in the last election (and again in Scotland) that he would cut subsidies to oil and gas corporations. Getting Big Oil and Gas off the government payroll will be a good trick. We pay them some $2 billion a year in direct subsidies; $18 billion in publicly-funded financial support; and another $63 billion if you count the cost to our health and environment. If you add in the cost of cleaning up the half million or so abandoned wells that litter the landscapes of Alberta and Saskatchewan, well, that’s another $260 billion.

He signed on to the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. But timber companies are built into Canada’s extractive economy. They supply the raw materials for houses, furniture and toilet paper that are sold in the marketplace.

Like much that is agreed to at these COPs (Conferences of the Parties), the deforestation promise comes with no plan, no timetable, and no guarantee that the signatories won’t let their logging companies back into the bush as soon as our backs are turned. Indonesia has already reneged on the Declaration. And who thinks that Jair Bolsonaro will halt his plan to axe the Amazon jungle?

For that matter, what makes Trudeau think he can halt and reverse deforestation in a country where industrial logging clear-cuts a million acres a year of intact (original) boreal forest. That’s a figure that put us in the company of Russia and Brazil.

Glasgow’s COP is shaping up to be the 26th COP-out.

Whether you’re a glass half full or a glass half empty sort of person, we need more whisky in our cups than came out of COP26. (As every Scot knows, ‘whisky’ is the Gaelic for ‘water’ as in uisge beatha – water of life.) Make mine Macallan’s.

David McLaren