Trudeau, Trump deliver Earth Day present By Tom Harris

Tom Harris

During a month of contentious trade issues between Canada and the United States, it was gratifying to see that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump actually did agree on one thing: climate change was not even worth mentioning in their official Earth Day statements.

In his official statement, U.S. President Donald Trump said nothing at all about climate change, global warming or greenhouse gases. Instead, his April 22 remarks focused on real, well-understood issues, such as “keeping our air and water clean, … preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and … protecting endangered species.”

Not surprisingly, environmentalists and their allies in the press thrashed the president for ignoring climate change. Huffington Post called the omission “shameful.” The UK’s The Independent complained that, in contrast to Trump, former Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama both addressed climate change in their Earth Day statements. AOL News pointed out that Obama’s 2016 Earth Day statement mentioned climate change five times.

It surprised no one that Trump would ignore man-made global warming on Earth Day. He has made it clear since early in the presidential campaign that, while he promotes real pollution reduction, he has no patience for the hypothesis that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing dangerous climate change.

But what was surprising was that, even though Earth Day has been largely taken over by global warming campaigners in recent years, Trudeau also made no direct reference to climate change in his 2017 Earth Day statement. Aside from embedding two climate change-related web links into his remarks, Trudeau said nothing at all about what he called “the great global challenge of our time” in his 2016 Earth Day statement.

Trudeau also joined Trump in promoting economic growth in his Earth Day statement, something bound to irk climate campaigners. Again, this was no surprise for Trump. But Trudeau’s Earth Day support of actions to “grow the economy” coupled with a string of recent decisions—giving the green light to the Trans Mountain and the Line 3 pipeline projects, and his enthusiastic endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline—suggests that the Canadian government is starting to see the hand writing on the wall: where the U.S. goes on climate and energy, so, eventually, must go Canada if we are to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

The reaction of climate campaigners to Trudeau’s recent actions is revealing. Green Party leader Elizabeth May said that she was ready to go to prison to stop Trans Mountain. founder Bill McKibben called Trudeau a “stunning hypocrite” on global warming in his April 17 piece in the U.K.’s The Guardian. McKibben wrote about Trudeau, “He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the U.S. to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.”

To be sure, the Trudeau government has made some expensive climate change-related mistakes in their first year and a half in power–their plans to phase out most of our inexpensive coal-fired power plants by 2030, and the upcoming nationwide minimum price on emissions of the benign gas carbon dioxide, for example.

But let’s give credit where it is due. Both Trudeau and Trump gave us welcomed Earth Day presents on April 22: official environment statements with no mention of climate change. Bravo!

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition.