COLUMN: Not the time for climate brinkmanship

From guest columnist Laura Sacks...

by Laura Sacks

With the recent announcement of Premier Christy Clark’s completely ineffective climate plan, all eyes are now on the Federal plan currently being developed.

This month we should be hearing recommendations from the four working groups who are exploring different aspects of the climate plan, including carbon pricing.

The new federal plan better have some teeth because the hard facts are that BC’s current plans and Canada’s current targets for cutting carbon emissions are woefully inadequate.

Clark has opted not to increase the BC carbon tax, which is fundamental for it to remain effective.

Instead, Environment Minister Mary Polak stated that they support “the adoption of BC’s price on carbon as a national benchmark, and increasing that price together in an effective and affordable way, once others catch up.”

In other words, they are asking for Federal leadership.

Frankly, the climate crisis is a lot more urgent than current political discussions in Canada would suggest.

This year is expected to be the warmest year on record beating out 2015 as the previous record holder.

Fifteen of the 16 warmest years on record have happened since 2000. Headlines jump out at us almost every day.

One third of the Great Barrier Reef died this year. Arctic sea ice and Greenland’s ice sheet are melting faster than anyone thought possible.

Temperatures recorded in Kuwait and Iraq this summer were the hottest ever recorded in the eastern hemisphere (54 C).

We’ve experienced epic extreme weather events around the world record-setting floods, droughts, severe storms, and wild fires.

Climate change is upon us now, and the impacts are expected to get considerably worse if we can’t rapidly reduce our emissions.

The majority of Canadians want to see strong climate policies. This summer, thousands of Canadians packed climate town halls across the country including the West Kootenay asking for bold climate leadership.

The science is settled and it’s time to act.

Experts from all camps tell us that the cornerstone of any effective climate plan is a price on carbon. That price needs to rise steadily every year to provide the economic signal to decarbonize the economy.

Effective carbon pricing should also be fair, transparent, and complement other policies including eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

There are many models of what to do with the revenue; the easiest to implement is carbon fee and dividend, where it is returned back equally to all Canadians

At the Paris climate talks, Canada, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories became founding partners of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and committed to effective carbon pricing policies to meaningful lower emissions guided by a set of principles known by the acronym FASTER.

Recently 20 Canadian corporations also joined this coalition, including Canada’s largest banks, Air Canada, and Teck Resources.

A serious plan to transition to renewable energy will stimulate the economy and create many more jobs than would the fossil fuel sector.

According to Dr. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University and the Solutions Project, decarbonizing the Canadian economy to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 is 100 per cent possible and it will save us money.

The politicians who can lead Canada to the clean energy economy of tomorrow will make their mark on history, and they will need our help.

This is not the time for climate brinkmanship.

We are required to find non-partisan solutions that will withstand changes in government that will occur during the many decades needed to address climate change.

We are challenged to work together to find solutions, to stay involved, and to not allow special interests to hijack this opportunity.

Laura Sacks is an environmental scientist and leader of the local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

 

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