Top News

BRIAN JONES: St. John’s ‘climate emergency’ produces hot air

Conventioneers who fly to St. John’s emit greenhouse gases, so city council — after declaring its climate emergency — should follow through by closing the St. John’s Convention Centre. - Stock photo
Conventioneers who fly to St. John’s emit greenhouse gases, so city council — after declaring its climate emergency — should follow through by closing the St. John’s Convention Centre. - Stock photo - 123RF Stock Photo

St. John’s City Council recently declared the world faces a climate emergency, and the ensuing accolades came in faster than council members could pat themselves on the back.

Henceforth, global warming and greenhouse gas emissions will be taken into consideration when city council makes decisions, sets policy, passes bylaws and whatnot.

City staff was instructed to submit a report by year’s end, advising council on actions it should take.

I’ll give odds of 10-1 on bets that council will do anything that will cost it a substantial amount of money. Don’t be tempted. They won’t, and you will lose.

Here we have a perfect example of why so many Albertans are livid. The blue-eyed sheiks — to use a phrase Ontarians popularized in the 1970s — have been angry for several years, and their fury peaked after the Liberals won the Oct. 21 federal election.

Everyone is worried about dirty oil, and cretinous Albertans stubbornly keep producing it.

But holier-than-thou hypocrites — such as, say, St. John’s city council — continue to burn oil, continue to benefit from the burning of oil and continue to refuse to take actions that will cost them a significant amount of money.

Council’s first step in support of its declaration of a climate emergency must be to close the St. John’s Convention Centre. Or, more accurately and as politicians have a habit of saying, to “repurpose” it, i.e., use it for something else.

The main hurdle to saving the planet is realizing and admitting that you will have to sacrifice some of your own benefits, some of your own income and money, and admit that as a user of oil, you are just as guilty as the producers of oil.

Convention delegates fly to St. John’s from all over Canada and the continent, on jets that emit greenhouse gases. By continuing to facilitate and benefit from conventions being held in St. John’s, city council contradicts its own declaration of a climate emergency and its intention to do something about it.

You can’t claim to love animals and then go home and kick your dog. If you do, you are a hypocrite. And worse.

You can’t claim to be concerned about the climate catastrophe and then encourage people to get on airplanes. If you do, you are being illogical and contradictory. And you are a hypocrite. (Editor’s note: you already said that. Maybe lay off the H word for awhile.)

Speaking of hypocrisy, city officials have been pressuring the airlines to bring back direct international flights between St. John’s and Dublin, and between St. John’s and London.

Apparently, travel and tourism are more important than the climate emergency.

This is the case on the sea as well as in the air. City Hall has been touting St. John’s as a cruise ship destination for years. Mayors have flown to Florida to entice ship captains to pull into St. John’s harbour after they’ve visited New York, Boston and Halifax.

With the declaration of a climate emergency, city council must also stop welcoming cruise ships and stop encouraging them to come here.

In fact, council must go further, and tell cruise lines — ostentatious greenhouse gas emitters that they are — to no longer come to St. John’s.

Of course, council will have to co-ordinate this with the St. John’s Port Authority, but we’ve known for 40 years that saving the planet won’t be straightforward or easy.

The main hurdle is realizing and admitting that you will have to sacrifice some of your own benefits, some of your own income and money, and admit that as a user of oil, you are just as guilty as the producers of oil.

The Liberals, NDP and Greens have essentially told Alberta oilpatch workers that their livelihoods must and will end, as Canada becomes a zero carbon emitter by either 2050 (Liberal policy) or by 2030 (NDP and Greens).

This is punishing the producer and ignoring the consumer, something Albertans are well aware of, but many other Canadians are oblivious to.

So, let’s ask city council: when will the St. John’s Convention Centre be closed?

That is something city hall has direct control over, unlike the cruise ship industry or airlines’ international flight schedules.

Situations like this gave rise to the clichés, “Put your money where your mouth is,” and, “Put up or shut up.”

If city council is not willing to forgo the business and the money conventioneers bring to St. John’s, then it should end its charade of declaring a climate emergency, because it will have been proven to mean exactly nothing.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at brian.jones@thetelegram.com.


RELATED:

Recent Stories