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Don’t count on politicians to prevent a global-warming apocalypse

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11.10.2018

The trouble with politics is politicians.

With the planet hanging in the balance, according to the United Nations’ new climate report, you could not pick a worse group than politicians to manage the slow-motion apocalypse of global warming.

It seems they’re always at their best in opposition: full of ideas, principles, and convictions. Once in power, they undergo a sea change. They become full of themselves.

People who decried “gold-plated” pensions end up taking them. Take Deborah Grey.

Those who rubbished omnibus bills as critics of the government pass their own when they’re calling the shots. Take the Trudeau Liberals.

Champions of transparency become masters of opacity when they change sides in the House of Commons. Take the PM himself, failing to open up ministers’ offices to freedom-of-information requests after promising to do so.

Of course, part of the problem is with the electorate itself. To believe what a politician says when she’s campaigning to become the government is a little like believing Donald Trump on a bad day — rational optimism that’s slipped its moorings.

Just as voters focus on their self-interest, most politicians wind up focusing on re-election — not on the grand enterprise of doing the right (and sometimes difficult) thing, with power. Long-term thinking is rarely, if ever, rewarded at the ballot box, which is why we have so many short-term political thinkers.

Ultimately, the failings of voters pale beside the failings of these politicians. According to the UN’s major new report, there are just a dozen years or so for governments around the world to get it right. After 25 years of rhetoric, the failure on this matter continues. The name of action on the environment is consistently lost in the heat of resolve.

According to the UN report,........

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