The Prime Minister went to the Arctic for nine days and never spoke of climate change.
The words didn’t cross his lips, as far as I know. Yet the consequences of climate change should have been apparent all around him, assuming he was interested.
What kind of worldview can reconcile such disinterest with such predicted danger*?
One, I assume, in which the consequences of climate change are not believed to be consequential. That is, whatever happens in the environment won’t be all that significant, not in the next decade, maybe not ever. And technology, policy and leadership can respond when the times are ready. Just not now.
Conservatives in Canada, Republicans in America, Coalitionists in Australia and soft denialists in power anywhere don’t have much to say about climate change. There have no real policy innovation, and no desire to develop any.
So the strategy is not to say anything at all, and keep the topic off the agenda.
That was the consequence of the Prime Minister’s Arctic trip: to not raise the topic, and hence lower the expectations on what serious people need to say about climate change.
Business has raised the bar to about the same level: serious people don’t have serious public concerns about climate change. That, presumably, is why it doesn’t get treated as a risk, fiscal or otherwise, when Canada’s industrialists make another big push to tap fossil fuels and get them to markets. It’s apparent in the news coverage, or absence of it, on the expansion of terminal capacity for thermal coal in this region. Concerns about coal dust, yes; train noise, yes. Climate change? Not so much. Or not at all.
For most of our senior leadership, whether in legislatures, executive offices or editorial pages, there are no consequences of climate change that have to be treated seriously enough at the moment to justify change – certainly not pricing the carbon we export for its consequences to the climate – that would disrupt the status quo or break the silence now.
Or, they must hope, ever.
* As recently as yesterday: “New Climate Normal” Poses Severe Risks to Development—World Bank Report