Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't. Andrew Weaver's Truth.

When it comes to the climate emergency and greenhouse gas emissions, truth can be hard to find.

U. Vic. climate scientist and former head of the B.C. Green Party, Andrew Weaver, has incurred the wrath of some prominent environmental activists for some blunt comments.

On the eve of the COP26 talks in Glasgow, the former leader of the BC Green Party — Andrew Weaver — caused a climate-community tempest when he tweeted, “1.5 degrees is not attainable. It never has been imho.”

The 1.5 C cap on warming, proposed at the Paris climate summit in 2015 was not attainable and never has been. That's pretty clear. The fact that this year's gathering is COP 26 sort of gives it all away. 26 years and even a global pandemic can't curb our greenhouse gas emissions. 

The climate activists aren't attacking Weaver for his conclusions. They're after him for what they perceive as his motives. To people like Bill McKibben, Weaver is building a smokescreen for the Tar Sands and bitumen's political minions.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org tweeted back: “by ‘not attainable’ it feels like you mean, ’not conveniently attainable without causing disruption to powerful interests such as, in Canada’s case, the tarsands complex.”

As the [IPCC] reported in August, the Earth has already surpassed one degree of warming; we’re currently at around 1.1 degrees, and because there’s a 10-20 year time lag between emissions and warming, the climate would come within a hair of 1.5 degrees even if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases this instant. Instead, humans are emitting more greenhouse gases than ever before in history. In terms of emissions, at least, civilization has fully bounced back from the pandemic.

The sins of our fathers. Yeah, that's you, Jean, and you too Steve.

“Back in the 1990s, and early 2000s, we had a chance at 1.5,” Weaver wrote, responding to McKibben’s tweet. “We have warmed by 1.1 already. There is a 0.6 commitment to existing levels of GHGs assuming all we do is keep these fixed at present values.”

It may be politically incorrect to say that out loud, but Weaver’s hardly the first scientist to do just that. Earlier this year, Australia’s Climate Council (an independent body of scientists not to be confused with Australia’s notoriously climate-skeptical government) released a report explaining the exact same thing. “Multiple lines of evidence show that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial level, without significant overshoot and subsequent drawdown, is now out of reach due to past inaction,” the authors wrote. “The science is telling us that global average temperature rise will likely exceed 1.5 degrees C during the 2030s, and that long-term stabilization at warming at or below 1.5 degrees C will be extremely challenging.”

...whatever one makes of Weaver’s politics, it is wishful thinking to suppose that 1.5 degrees is still possible.

That ship has sailed. This truth makes the climate fight more urgent, not less. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

It would be lovely if our politicians, including our prime minister of the day, could come clean with the Canadian people. After all, they use this aspirational nonsense for cover. They're vague for a reason. There's nothing accidental about it.  Gotta keep that neoliberal juggernaut rollin' at least until the wheels fall off. Then, well...

The important point isn't whether Weaver is a shill for Justin Trudeau's bitumen fetish or John Horgan's LNG/Site C fantasies. That's almost irrelevant now. What's important is that there'll be no soft landing when the climate crisis unfolds. What matters is making the crash landing as survivable as possible. That means holding these political miscreants to account for what they ought to be doing on adaptation measures. They act as though that's not their problem. They're right, it's not, it's ours. They're the people leaving us defenceless.


  1. We have been pissing into the wind for some years.
    At least we can make the bastards that knowingly caused the situation, suffer the worst fate they can think of'; financial ruin.


    1. Wouldn't that be wonderful, TB. This, however, is Canada, a nation that privatizes profits and socializes losses. Consider the thousands of "orphan wells" that have now become a public liability, their former owners having slipped their responsibilities. Who do you imagine will have to foot the bill for the bitumen tar sands tailing ponds? Who will make good the damage suffered by the First Nations on the Athabasca River whose settlements are now 'cancer villages'?

  2. I lost any lingering respect for Lizzie May after the ridiculous anti-Palestinian putsch that led to the elevation of Paul and the implosion of her party.

    Now, Weaver is correct about blowing past 1.5 (likely already happened) but so wrong for his Horgan/Trudeau fanboy routine. Weaver offers living proof that the colour a politician wears is not a good reason to vote for them.


    1. I'm willing to cut Weaver a little slack, NPoV. Even the venerable James Lovelock had his moment when he told people not to worry about climate change, it's not their fault, go ahead and party.

      Now Andrew Weaver is no James Lovelock. He's always had the politicians "art of the possible" mentality. Several years ago I drove to Port Alberni to hear Weaver speak. The discussion turned to LNG. Weaver said he opposed most, but not all, of the pending projects. He felt a duty to compromise, to settle.

      Which brings to mind Winston Churchill's remark that "Some times it is not enough that we do our best. Some times we must do what is required." Weaver has never risen to that level and, in that, he's disappointed a lot of us who he finds too radical for his taste.


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