Climate solutions vs government actions, Part III: Governments are failing us, and they need to hear from YOU (by Peter van der Velden)

This is third and final article dealing with Climate change and the inability of our governments to start dealing with the reality of our changing environmental conditions. Part II is Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s T2 expansion proposal for Delta Container Port and Part I is Fortis expansion proposal for Tilbury Island LNG terminal.

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From the federal level to the municipal level our governments are not dealing with our “CLIMATE EMERGENCY.”

In Glasgow at the GOP26 this year Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed our commitments made to the Paris Agreement. We committed to making an effort to limit warming to 1.5 C. Few countries including Canada have lived up to stated goals thus far.

The report on climate mitigation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that limiting global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels this century, is all but out of reach without massive and immediate emissions cuts. 1)

While the overall trend between 1990 and 2020 was an increase in GHG emissions, the emissions were driven primarily by a 74% increase in emissions from oil and gas extraction and a 32% increase in the transport Sector. 2) 3)

THE ECONOMY OR THE ENVIRONMENT

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”-David Attenborough

Nature is also the greatest source of our resources. Up to this point in our existence our use of the material we have extracted from the earth has seen only limited control and marginal success.

Our governments are failing us at almost every level. At a time when Climate Crisis and food and material shortages are at the forefront of the minds of almost everyone our governments are failing to act. Our fisheries are at peril, our forests are burning, farm land is being sold off and our living costs are growing exponentially while record corporate profits are being made. Our governments are failing to move appropriately citing; “the need for world fuel due to the Ukraine war” and “supply chain issues.”

No matter where the prime minister speaks, he advocates our need to do better for the environment but his actions deny any credibility in his statements. The reason we have reached this threshold point is because our governments continue to put the economy before the environment.

We need to recognize that the present moment is possibly the last opportunity to bring about a better future for ourselves and our children. By taking on the carbon economy, we can begin charting a pathway towards economic recovery while building a more equitable, more sustainable world in the process.

These subsidies will cost all BC residents

The costs to provide cheap BC LNG to Asia and the shipping industry will be borne by the British Columbia public, and they are high. The following table shows what subsidies are known and how much they will cost per job created. It has been created for the LNG Woodfibre Squamish facility. The costs for the Tilbury Island facility will be higher as the facility is more than half again as large.

Are you willing to pay these costs? Line 1, ‘low cost electricity won’t even be seen as a tax, it will be a ‘hidden tax.’ That is to say, the $34 to $43million subsidy will need to be recovered by Hydro. This will likely mean increased Hydro costs directly to all the Hydro customers.

Most of the gas isn’t for Canadian consumption, and the business case is seriously flawed. The damage incurred to our environment and the danger posed to our communities is not acceptable.

Above: A typical fracking site with large tailing pond

We need to act now

If we do not act but proceed with “business as usual” we will continue to deal with climate change in a fire-fighting manner: We will end up dealing with crisis after crisis; floods, heat waves, storms, rising water levels, disrupted agriculture and the resulting loss in productivity.

All of these have costs attached. Costs that are generally borne by the public. These costs are not just financial. People have lost their homes, families, and livelihood. Insurance costs continue to increase and the ability to insure is getting more and more restrictive. Inaction is not acceptable!

We have seen what our business model has produced. What people and corporations are not discussing is the possibilities this presents. We can-and will-grow from this.

Yes, sectors of our economy will need to go through some radical changes. However, we have known this for quite some time but there has been little initiative from industry or government. We have seen the loss of the east coast cod fisheries and now the declining stock of West Coast salmon. The lumber industry has largely self-regulated to its current state. And still, the government shows little initiative to ensure that our rate of extraction of all resources is more carefully controlled.

In a diabolic twist, Prime Minister Trudeau sees our fossil fuel resources as a way to achieve our “environmental goals.” The driver with our government continues to be the economy and finance. This needs to change!

How to effect change

By achieving a large-scale economic transformation that dismantles the carbon economy and brings about a greener world, we have an opportunity to begin the process of economic recovery while working to undo the injustices at the heart of our modern system. As the undersigned experts in economics, we call on our policymakers to recognize the role that meaningful climate action has to play in rebuilding our world – to recognize that a healthy economy and society require a healthy planet.

Economic reasons are mostly used by all levels of government: The drivers being the economy and jobs. This is not to say these are not important drivers. However, all governments have categorically agreed that we are in a “CLIMATE EMERGENCY.” So far, the issue seems to attract little more than lip-service. Not only is little being done, GHG emissions continue to be underestimated and fossil fuel projects continue to be approved.” 4)

This joint statement was signed by professional economists and scholars, and is appealing to everyone.

From a governmental perspective it means a new approach to managing our resources and adapting our economy. It is not unreasonable to say that this will be a major shake-up. Our governments have long known this but have covered it with endless promises for 2030 and 2050. In the meantime, we have achieved little, are still increasing our GHG emissions and are still not retraining our work force.

We will all need to make changes and adapt our lives. However, this needn’t be all negative.

Not unlike our efforts to reduce, re-use and re-cycle. It means managing our habits, needs and lifestyle. The best part about this is that we can choose to do it rather than be forced or legislated to do it.

GET INVOLVED!

Despite efforts by governments to reduce emissions, most Canadians want to see governments do more. 66% would like to see governments in Canada put more emphasis on reducing emissions.
Abacus data October 2021

Only 35.5% are confident that countries will actually succeed in reducing their country’s contribution to climate change. Less than a third of citizens feel they have a say in what government does (30.2%)

We cannot continue to allow these decisions to be made in a vacuum: we need immediate action to reduce emissions. The only way to do this effectively and quickly is to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry. 5)

Contact your MLA, your MP or your city council:Governments need to do better in responding to citizens’ concerns and tackling climate change. The only way we can do this is to voice our concerns.

In this fall’s municipal elections (October 15, 2022), make your environmental concerns front and center. Make your concerns known and demand that your representatives act accordingly. Hold them accountable!

 1). https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

 2 https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html#summary-details).

 3.) https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html#oil-gas

 4) https://commongood.cc/reader/letter-from-economists-to-rebuild-our-world-we-must-end-the-carbon-economy/ .

 5) https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/governments-seen-as-reliable-post-pandemic-but-giving-citizens-greater-voice-is-critical-to-strengthening-trust.htm

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