After months (years actually) of incessant delusional messaging from the oil industry and its political puppets about how expanding carbon polluting activities (production, pipelines, ports) won’t accelerate global warming, Obama’s speech today was much needed. In addition to directing the EPA to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal plants, he also said that Keystone XL won’t be approved if it leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, he still is not quite asking the right question. Were he to ask “how do we decrease emissions here and abroad?” the obvious answer is “by doing everything we can to prevent new production facilities and delivery infrastructure here and abroad.”
If his questions stay in the industry's frame “will Keystone XL (or anything else) increase carbon pollution?” the oil industry will always have a fighting chance by claiming “no, because we will increase them by other means; so you might as well approve this.”
In other words, “you might as well approve this planet destroying infrastructure because if you don’t we will get rich destroying the planet by developing similar infrastructure elsewhere, and they will get the short-term, planet-destroying jobs instead of you.”
Although the logic of destruction is easily exposed, it is difficult when industry has so many resources to control and frame the messaging. I explain this with hopefully some helpful metaphors (liking wiping out the cod stocks on the Grand Banks) in my testimony before the US Congress in April and before some European Parliamentarians in May with James Hansen.
Today it was nice to see someone with power say something different from the industry delusion. It was not perfect. But it was so much better than what we hear from our Canadian government.