A dark geopolitical experiment took place in the latter half of the 2010s when three democracies in the G20 elected hard-core climate deniers to govern their country.

  • United States: Donald Trump – 2017 to 2021
  • Australia: Scott Morrison – 2018 to 2022
  • Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro – 2019 to 2022

This experiment was not carried out by science but by anti-science. Climate denialism is the movement against the accepted science of climate change, and climate deniers especially disagree that climate change has morphed into a crisis that will get worse if we don’t rein in our greenhouse gas emissions.

The one who received the most global wrath for his climate denialism had been Trump. The former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, for example, stated: “Trump is the leading climate denier in the world,” and the noted economist Paul Krugman wrote: “While Donald Trump is a prime example of the depravity of climate denial, this is an issue on which his whole party went over to the dark side years ago.”

Morrison, when Australia’s treasurer, brazenly showed up in parliament holding a chunk of coal and mockingly stated to the opposition: “This is coal, don’t be scared.” Then, as prime minister, he went off on vacation to Hawaii during the height of Australia’s national disaster when bushfires ravaged the country. And, at the end of his term, Australia was hit by another disaster related to the climate crisis — floods. In all, Morrison’s term was described as: “Climate denial, abrogation of responsibility and incompetent delivery of services.”

And for his deforestation policies of the Amazon rainforest, a scathing commentary had called out the climate denial of the recently defeated Bolsonaro:

“THERE’S NO PRISON (yet) for climate criminals, but if there was, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would have a spider-infested cell all to himself. Now that Trump is gone, Bolsonaro — a.k.a. “The Trump of the Tropics” or “Captain Chainsaw”— is the most dangerous climate denier in the world.”

Much of the world was horrified by the climate denial that took place during these three leaders’ administrations. Their blatant denial of science and dismissal of expert advice on the climate crisis, plus their policies which worsened the environment and demonstrated their disregard for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, turned them into climate pariahs.

Geopolitical experiments with climate denialism have been a complete failure at a national and global level, and when the time came for re-election, Trump, Morrison and Bolsonaro were kicked out of office after a single toxic term for various reasons, including climate denialism.

The world has already witnessed how climate denialism failed the United States, Australia, and Brazil. Will Canada be next? asks @GeraldKutney

During this time, climate denialism was also on the rise in Canadian politics, notably among the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). The preferred home for climate-denial extremists in Canada is the PPC, formed in 2018 by Maxime Bernier, but the party has never elected a single member, so no more needs to be said about them.

The CPC, though, is the official Opposition, and therefore much closer to power. The CPC is somewhat less radical than the PPC, but a party of climate denialism nevertheless, as I outlined in an earlier op-ed, Conservatives’ climate denial makes them political dinosaurs: “The CPC became the first major political party, possibly anywhere, to officially vote against accepting that ‘climate change is real.’”

The CPC’s new leader, Pierre Poilievre, is also my MP in the Ottawa region (in case you’re wondering, I did not vote for him). Is Poilievre a climate denier? Some may say no. He says almost nothing about climate change.

Among his over 12,000 tweets, for example, he mentioned “climate change” only once — to complain about the rich using private jets to go to Davos, but Poilievre has had lots of complaints about Canada’s major policy to combat climate change: the price on carbon.

And when he won the CPC leadership race, he stated: “Fight climate change with technology, not with taxes.” This feeble claim is the mantra of many conservative politicians, which is just denial code for “I will do nothing about climate change.”

Poilievre is candid when it comes to being an oil apologist, which is a type of climate denier. On Twitter, he posted a picture where he is proudly wearing a sweatshirt reading, “Oilsands Strong,” and, in another tweet, he replied to Elon Musk with: “Canadian oil and gas — the most ethical and environmentally sound in the world.”

At a news conference, he grumbled: “Right now, we have anti-energy laws in this country that are preventing people from harvesting our resources and bringing them responsibly to market.” The so-called “anti-energy laws” that he finds so problematic are federal regulations to combat climate change.

Any lingering doubt about Poilievre being a climate denier should be eliminated by his entry in the well-known climate-denier repository, the Climate Disinformation Database, which lists many examples of his climate denial. The database is selective; while Trump is included, Morrison and Bolsonaro are not.

Poilievre as leader of the CPC and an officially designated climate denier raises the question — will a climate denier become the next PM of Canada? The world has already witnessed how climate denialism failed the United States, Australia, and Brazil.

Do we need to copy what other countries got wrong, especially when Canada is experiencing its own climate-related disasters?

Have we learned from the mistakes of these geopolitical experiments in climate denialism? If so, when Canadians next go to the polls, whenever that might be, we will know what to do.

Gerald Kutney is a commentator in the news media and on social media on the politics of the climate crisis. He has authored the book Carbon Politics and the Failure of the Kyoto Protocol and is now working on CLIMATE BRAWL: Climate Denialism in American Politics.

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Unfortunately, the currently governing parties are wholly unwilling to act strongly on climate change - another kind of climate denialism. Do we really need to settle for less bad? Proportional representation would help; the governing party is also against that.

What about the Premiers of Canadian provinces? In particular Ford in Ontario?

What's the difference between a leader, like Poilievre, who is a climate-change denier, and a leader who accepts that human-caused climate change is real, but does nothing substantive about it, like Trudeau?

"Will a climate denier be our next PM?"
Heaven forbid! That would make five in a row.

Kutney's analysis — more of the same stealth advertising for the Liberal Party of Canada — restricts itself to a narrow definition of climate change denial: the open rejection of climate science.
What about the soft denialism peddled by "petro-progressive" parties? Could that be even more dangerous?

Petro-progressives claim to accept the climate change science, but still push pipelines, approve LNG projects, promote oilsands expansion, subsidize fossil fuels, and let fossil fuel interests dictate the agenda.
Acknowledge the science, but ignore its implications. Boast about climate leadership, but push fossil fuel expansion and pipelines. Sign int'l agreements, but fail to live up to them. Putting emissions targets out of reach.
Which is worse? The deniers who deny their house is on fire, or the deniers who accept their house is on fire, but throw fuel on the flames — then stand back and watch it burn?
Worse, they assure bystanders (us) that they have everything under control and prevent fire-fighters from tackling the blaze.

The new denialism. Just as delusional as the old kind but more insidious. And far more dangerous.
"The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention" (The Narwhal)

Which is worse? Climate sabotage on the right, or betrayal by "progressive" parties?
One side rejects the science on climate change; the other side ignores it.

In Canada, the climate crisis is being driven by politicians and parties across the spectrum. In fact, the federal Liberals and provincial NDP parties (AB and B.C.) have proven far more effective than the Conservatives in delivering on Big Oil's and Corporate Canada's agenda. New pipelines, record production, and record profits.
Petro-progressives (federal Liberals and provincial NDP) will take us over the climate cliff just as surely, and likely even faster, than blatant climate-change deniers on the right.
Whether we drive over the climate cliff at 100 kmh or 50 kmh, the result is the same.

The federal Liberals and Conservatives serve the same masters: Corporate Canada.
The neo-Liberals serve Corporate Canada and the Big Banks, heavily invested in the oilsands. It is these entities that dictate the Liberals' energy/climate policies.
Corporate Canada is banking on fossil fuel expansion and climate action failure. The Liberal Party is Corporate Canada's front office.
Trudeau & Co. have persuaded many Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on fossil fuels. Trudeau and Notley moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to "push country-wide support for pipelines from 40 per cent to 70 per cent." Something Harper, Scheer, Kenney, and Poilievre could never dream of doing.

The federal Liberals and Conservatives — as well as "progressive" provincial parties (AB and BC NDP) — are betting that the world will fail to take real action on climate change. The only scenario in which oilsands expansion makes sense.
As they see it, the path to renewable energy and a sustainable future runs through a massive spike in fossil-fuel combustion and emissions. Complete disconnect from the science.

The Liberals are betting big with our tax dollars on fake climate solutions. A triad of white elephants: carbon capture, small modular reactors, and blue hydrogen. (Not to mention LNG.) All of which overlook downstream emissions at the consumer end. And perpetuate the O&G industry.

Big Oil couldn't ask for a better setup. Terrified by the Conservative bogeyman, progressive voters run into the arms of Trudeau's Liberals. CAPP can set their Conservative hounds on the Liberals, while the Liberals give the O&G industry just about everything on its wishlist. The Liberals play the fear card every election to limit the NDP and Green vote.
That's the real story on climate politics in Canada. That's the dynamic that real journalism needs to report. That's the impasse we need to solve.

Key Quote:
"Alexandra Woodsworth, campaigns manager for Dogwood echoed Appadurai's insistence that the [B.C. NDP] party's incremental approach to climate policy represents the greater threat. 'We are not going to build the world we want to see by acting out of fear.'"
"Chronicle of a death foretold" (National Observer)

Gaslighting by Conservatives has become the norm. Poilieve, Kenney, Ford, Moe's, and now Smith. My former MP Yurdiga, emphasized ethical oil as if it does not emit CO2. The above do the same. Oil and fossil fuels will always be used, we just have to reduce then eliminate that CO2 and METHANE. But there are other uses, other than burning it. The very last thing we need is uncertainty in government policy. Carbon Taxes work and do not cost a lot. Simple, but impossible for climate deniers to comprehend. Read Nomad Century by Gaia, nonfiction or the fiction of David Wallace Wells in The UNINHABITABLE EARTH. Wake up Conservatives. Ask our agricultural community if climate change us here and discuss the variation in weather.

Harper pulled Canada out of Kyoto and the Cons have run with that ball ever since. The Liberals will eventually get around to doing what for years they have been promising the question remains will it be too late. Alternatively, if the CPC is in power they will use the opportunity prevented by climate shock to do what they want and rest assured that will benefit the wealthy. The future is uncertain but giving up isn't an option.

His embrace of denial is as well-timed as his embrace of crypto.

We've won, in the "tipping point" sense, at least. After the fires and floods of the last few years, Australia, California, BC, Germany, Pakistan; the heat waves, and on and on. The stories have been coming too fast for them to get on top of, and their explanations aren't washing any more.

Which is why the US was able to pass all that incredible legislation, the last year: so many hundreds of billions to promote a green transition that Europe is now afraid of losing a lot of business to subsidized American factories, so they're preparing their own retaliatory subsidies for cars and wind and solar.

If Poilievre takes over and doesn't play ball with green strategy, he'll simply be screwing our manufacturing voters, who are far more numerous than the O&G voters (whom he already has in his pocket, anyway - Alberta never votes any other way).

Alberta also found, to its chagrin after voting in Mulroney after Trudeau 1.0's "National Energy Plan", that Mulroney only had policy eyes for Quebec's needs - since Alberta could be taken for granted.

So, relax; the momentum has flipped our way. While we have to keep pushing, we can stop stressing.

"Will a climate denier be our next PM?"

Not likely, but it's possible. Not likely because his grasp of basic science and economics is still a work in progress. If challenged to speak up, as he did with crypto currency, he comes across as Alfred E. Newman spouting another Neumanism.


In my view Harper was far worse. He wasn't just an intelligent denier with a constantly simmering anger problem, he actively schemed and pursued an agenda that not only promoted fossil fuels and other forms of extraction (standard fare for conservatives), but that squashed science and the rules-based protection of Canadian consumer's health through the diminishment and often outright cancellation of the analysis of projects deemed detrimental to the environment, food safety issues and the safety of consumer goods.

That wasn't just a dark decade. It was shameful. Harper continues to support "populism," as long as it is to the right of sane. He would be the last to admit that Tommy Douglas, the father of public medicare, was also a populist.

If Canadians elect PP Prime Minister, perhaps we will deserve the hard lessons we're going to get.
Heard him on the telly yesterday mentioning 'green energy'...but I think that was in Quebec, where climate change is the top issue and he's whoring for more seats in the next election..

Nevertheless, its a hard road ahead no matter who wins. In Alberta, every party has to support the energy industry, and fudge on how toxic unconventional fossil fuels actually are. We'll call Alberta oil 'ethical'...pretending we don't know stuff can't behave ethically, only humans are capable of that. We'll pretend we don't know how much potable water is destroyed in situ mining the tar like bitumen up from deep earth. We'll overlook the toxic ponds leaking into the Athabaska, a river so clean when it rises in our Rockies that its the palest glacier blue. And we'll make sure not to become knowledgeable about what makes fracked gas dirtier than coal, and essentially uneconomic to extract.........even if we planned to use it for domestic consumption, instead of liquifying it, piping it to tidewater and sending it on floating bombs run on bunker fuel........for quick sale in Asia.

We may vote NDP..........or Liberal. But we're still a bunch of blind mice when it comes to what our Canadian energy actually costs us. The price the future will pay???

Those are externalized costs we work hard not to have to imagine.
And I'm talking here about those of us who do acknowledge the connection between climate and the by products of fossil fuel production, transportation and use.

California is ahead of us all in facing the truth about the Climate Emergency....its very late in the game for them....and I fear we'll wait until its likely too late before we get real in Canada as well.

Although if we watch closely, Alberta may be the canary in the proverbial coal mine. LOL