The politics of climate change are pretty dismal right now. Canada is doing as little as it possibly can to combat the problem. The Obama administration in the United States is tied up doing other things, and regional initiatives like the Western Climate Initiative seem to be falling apart.
Given these challenging circumstances, it seems like a twofold strategy is justified for the year ahead.
First, it makes sense to work on rebuilding a political coalition calling for climate action. This is a complex undertaking that will involve everything from working to improve the electoral odds of parties and candidates who support climate action to raising the visibility of promising policy mechanisms like fee-and-dividend schemes.
Second, it makes sense to keep working to block projects that are triply-stupid, like the Keystone XL pipeline. When we build infrastructure that keeps us locked into a fossil fuel based economy, we are being wasteful in three connected ways. We are building infrastructure that will need to be scrapped when the world finally gets serious about stopping dangerous anthropogenic climate change. We are increasing the level of damage that climate change will do, both in terms of money and in terms of human suffering. Finally, we are forcing ourselves to build more appropriate energy infrastructure more quickly later.
By blocking inappropriate projects, we can avoid that triple waste. We can also show the world that there are at least some people in countries like Canada who are interested in protecting human lives more than in reaping oil profits.
It will probably be another difficult year, full of disappointments, but that is why it is necessary to keep applying ourselves to the problem with energy, creativity, and integrity.