To the Editor:

We have heard a lot recently about a climate change emergency taking place on our planet. It seems every time you watch the news or open a newspaper there are fresh warnings about this looming threat. Every level of government has jumped in with plans and advice on what we must do to reverse this dangerous phenomenon. Scientists, climatologists and independent environmental groups are all issuing dire warnings. Everyone from the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Pope have put out statements regarding the seriousness of the situation. Phrases such as “Red alert for the planet”, “Digging our own grave “and “Last chance for humanity” have been made. The world’s leaders, including the Canadian ones, have met in Glasgow to discuss this global crisis. And we are being urged, right down to the ordinary citizen level, to both take this climate emergency seriously and to take immediate action to halt it.

But….really? Some time ago approval was given by the UCPR Council to construct an enormous cement plant here in the United Counties of Prescott Russell. Cement plants are polluters, emitting tons of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases – the very things which we are told caused and are driving this climate change emergency. And this plant will be operating 24 hours a day.

Clearly, in a true climate change emergency, this disaster should not have been approved. But it was. Or if approved, then it should have been cancelled. But it wasn’t. Which I guess makes pretty clear the UCPR’s position regarding this “emergency”.

The Ontario government could stop this cement plant eco disaster if it chose to. It has the authority to stop it before it even starts. But it hasn’t. And when asked about that in the context of the current climate change emergency, the response has been a blank wall. Queries to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and its Minister as well as directly to Premier Doug Ford’s office have been met with complete silence. No sense of any “emergency” there it seems.

The federal government too could shut it down. Citing both the national interest and the obvious danger posed to Canada and the rest of the world by causing yet more global warming, the federal government could stop this proposed monster polluter cold. But it hasn’t. Questions raised with Canada’s Ministry of the Environment and its brand-new Minister have received zero response. Pleas directly to the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, resulted only in a nice email from the Prime Minister’s office (and that probably only because there was an election going on at the time) stating the this planned cement plant was beyond their jurisdiction. Apparently, and notwithstanding any so called “emergency “, Champlain Township – only an hour south of the nation’s capital – is not part of Canada. Who knew?

And finally, there is this curious group who make up what they call the UCPR Coalition for Climate Action. On the face of it, you would think that as this cement plant will, when built, be far and away the biggest single source polluter in the UCPR and perhaps Eastern Ontario, this new group would be leading the charge against it, furiously lobbying, and demanding that the responsible governments’ stop it before it’s too late. And here’s the curious part: they’re not. In fact, and judging from what I have read and heard of them, they don’t want to even talk about this cement plant disaster, let alone criticize it and still less to lead the charge to stop it. A curious position for an anti-climate change group to take. In what we are told is a time of climate change emergency, it seems this new UCPR Coalition for Climate Action is shying away from going after what will be the number one climate change contributor in the UCPR. What’s going on here?

And so, a climate change emergency? Really? I’m not so sure anymore. An emergency is, well, an emergency. Usually, in an emergency, something drastically bad has happened, or is happening, and something drastically good must be quickly done to correct it. Anybody see anything drastically good being done here? Me neither.

Colin Affleck, L’Orignal