When Prime Minister Harper visited the Arctic on one of his several trips – once for 16 days – the words “climate change” never passed his lips. In the Arctic – where the manifestations of climate change are more evident and fast-changing than most places on the planet.
That was a very deliberate strategy: ‘Never deny climate change, just don’t recognize it as a priority. Sign on to policies and protocols so long as the deadlines are decades hence. And send a message: Government will not do anything disruptive, particularly with respect to the economy, especially the resource industries, like carbon taxes or game-changing regulations.’
That message was targeted to other leaders and decision-makers, public and private, as well as his own base. In short: ‘I don’t believe climate change is a priority worthy of immediate or drastic action. So you don’t have to either.’
The strategy assumes two conditions: (1) The public believes you’re doing enough to take climate change seriously (but not crazily). That you are still taking care of us. And (2) Nature does nothing too disruptive.
It worked for Harper. Unfortunately, it’s not working for the Prime Minister of Australia and his coalition party.
Nature did not hold up its end of the bargain. And so the public isn’t either.