Like an infant’s wobbly initial steps, there are minor reasons to celebrate COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference). Among them, it may surprise some, this is the first COP summit in which any final declaration mentioned fossil fuels. The statement watered down the initial draft’s “Calls upon parties to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” to “Calls upon parties to accelerate the phasing down of unabated coal and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.” With 500+ lobbyists, Oil and Gas more than doubled any other country’s representatives so this mention is significant even diluted to such gibberish! (The logging gibberish was almost worse and industrial farming isn’t yet mentioned). India actually set a net-zero target. The U.S. and China announced intentions to coordinate on climate change issues. Still, there’s a serious lack of commitment to limit CO2 and thus timely limit climate change. Probably the most promising news was the Costa Rican and Danish initiative BOGA (Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance), which was joined by a few other countries. Hopefully, that will snowball into an avalanche of support sometime soon!

Locally, other avalanches of support will likely obstruct Canadian ports and railways in the coming weeks, since the Wet’suwet’en Yintah and New Hazelton saw 32 people arrested last week. At the time of writing, 17 spontaneous public demonstrations across Canada will likely set the stage for a re-run of 2019. The arrests were conducted by busloads of militarized RCMP handling assault and sniper weapons and attack dogs—amounting to a publicly funded corporate militia. At a time in B.C. and Canada with UNDRIP, reconciliation, and in the wake of a summer of grave confirmations, you’d think that these things might be handled considerably differently. At least instead of outright killing, we have Neil Young’s “kinder, gentler, machine gun hand,” but was this necessary?

The real battle, in the courts, should be between two Nations, Canada and the Wet’suwet’en, and over who has the jurisdiction to define activity in the unceded Yintah (territory), but these arrests are tied to an Injunction with the B.C. Supreme Court. Further, the restriction of journalists and legal observers from accessing the sites or who were arrested along with injunction violators has raised many eyebrows both internally and internationally, as was the exclusion zone that the RCMP set up leading up to the raids. The raids were characterized as a ‘rescue mission’ because the stranded pipeline work camps were running out of water—laughably in an area with some of the planet’s purest. The corporate spin is dizzying at best, and this mess is not going to be untangled easily.

From avalanches to mudslides with B.C.’s multi-billion dollar climate change “atmospheric river,” “500-year flood” event that was massively expanded by B.C.’s underreported accelerated clearcutting, one might wonder if we should be taking pause to consider a different economic course rather than aiding and abetting the root causes. Getting the money out of these conferences, politics, and our courts would be a massive step. Let’s get past the baby steps, please!

Rob Mercereau
Dunster BC