Noted historian Niall Ferguson asks, on social media:
He said, in an interview with CNBC, that “there’s a cognitive dissonance at the heart of Davos … [because] … Publicly, you have to agree with Greta Thunberg and you have to be part of the virtue-signaling community on climate change, on ESG … [but] … Privately, you’re quietly agreeing with Trump,” and, by extension with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who said that Greta Thunberg needed to get a degree in economics before she prattled on about shutting down fossil fuels.
Dr Fergusson said “Sixty percent of CO2 emissions since Greta Thunberg was born is attributable to China … [but] … nobody talks about that. They talk as if its somehow Europeans and Americans who are going to fix this problem… which is frustrating because it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.” Professor Ferguson agrees that there is a climate change problem, but, he asks, what are we going to do about it? He suggests that “If you’re serious about slowing CO2 emissions and temperatures rising it has to be China and India that are constrained.” Greta Thunberg has been to New York and Calgary and, now, Davos, but, Niall Ferguson says, “I don’t see her in Beijing or Delhi.” Of course, she’s not there. No one would give her a platform there. No one would listen, No one would fawn over her.
So it’s a good question: when will Greta Thunberg, and both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson for that matter, acknowledge that we, in the West, cannot undo the effects of global climate change unless and until we can persuade China and India, above all, to switch from coal to cleaner energy sources. What’s cleaner? Well, Canadian oil and natural gas, sent to Canadian seaports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, through Canadian pipelines, is cleaner; so is Canadian natural gas. Canadian uranium can power much, much cleaner power plants, especially in Asia.
I am not a climate change denier and I support finding useful ways to stop spewing too much CO₂ into the atmosphere, I have agreed with Gerald Butts that climate change is a global issue and Canada needs to be part of a global solution. But too many people, including Greta Thunberg and Justin Trudeau, seem to think that America, Britain, Canada, Denmark and so on must cut their CO₂ emissions while China and India go on burning coal. Canada’s own coal consumption has been decreasing steadily for more than a decade. Ontario, for example, phased out all of its coal-fired electrical generating plants. But Canadians still use coal, although at a decreasing rate and Canada expects, confidently, to stop using coal to generate electricity by 2030:
But the world’s coal consumption is still growing, over ⅔ of the world’s electricity is generated by coal-fired plants:
No one expects China and India to stop enjoying the benefits of a modern, electrical lifestyle and they don’t need lectures from teenaged busybodies ~ the impact of air pollution is all too visible to them …
… atmospheric pollution is a real, serious problem in Asia and it is “ordinary” people, demanding change who will make their governments act, not European activists or Canadian political virtue signalling. But it would help if Greta Thunberg and Justin Trudeau would acknowledge that Canada is not the problem, and Canadian oil and gas and uranium and technology might be a big part of the global solution.
Even Chrystia Freeland seems to get that, in a recent interview she told the Financial Times‘ Edward Luce that “Even if all Canadians ceased emitting carbon we wouldn’t move the dial. A big part of our task needs to be leading the multilateral challenge.” Now, perhaps she can explain that to Prime Minister Trudeau and to Greta Thunberg and to all the other climate puritans who demand instant and absolute obedience to their desire that we all return to 16th-century subsistence living.
Global climate change is real. It is going to change everything. We can and should mitigate its impacts on most of us by, inter-alia, making better use of all our energy-producing resources. That may mean building a huge, new undersea electrical cable to take electricity from a HUGE solar plant in Northern Australia to Singapore, or it may mean building new pipelines to get cleaner Canadian natural gas and oil to world markets, to displace coal. We need less of young Ms Thunberg’s fear-mongering and more of the sort of pragmatism that Ms Freeland displayed.