Premier’s Energy Strategy: A Big Step Backwards

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1The World needs to keep its carbon emissions in check, in order to escape the worst ravages of Climate Change. Europe is doing it’s part and is presently close to 20% below the 1990 benchmark set by the Kyoto Accord. Canada has done very little. According to the most recent reports, our emissions are presently 19% above 1990 levels and climbing. Last week the nation’s provincial leaders reached a compromise solution. Today’s radio interview has a simple description for the Premier’s Energy Strategy: A Big step backwards.

Canadians Do Not Agree

The Premiers are hiding behind the idea “There are no simple answers.”

Recent polls suggest the Canadian people do not agree with this. One taken last April found that 61% of the respondents think it is more important to tackle Climate Change than build pipelines.

Environmental Defence Press Release

This morning’s interview is with  Dale Marshall, National Program Manager at Environmental Defence, who just sent out a press release saying:

“The energy strategy released today by provincial premiers is a big step backwards. By lending support to pipelines, the strategy will put Canada further out of step with the rest of the world where climate change is being treated as a serious matter. We in Canada need to come to grips with the fact that it’s practically impossible to grow the tar sands and reduce carbon pollution.

At least one provincial premier was able to remove stronger targets on climate change and include more references to oil. This shows that we need a strong federal partner to fight climate change because this provincial agreement panders to the lowest common denominator.

Falling oil prices, layoffs and this week’s pipeline spill in Alberta – one of the largest in Canadian history – are all reminders of the financial and environmental risks of putting our eggs in the tar sands basket. Wildfires in British Columbia, a severe drought in California and more extreme and unpredictable weather all underscore the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for a meaningful energy strategy to tackle carbon pollution.

The only way the energy strategy can be salvaged is for provincial energy ministers to focus on strengthening and then implementing the potentially forward-looking parts of the strategy, including:

  • Committing to significant reductions in carbon pollution from every province, which would mean passing laws and regulations that cap, reduce and put a price on carbon emissions.
  • Focusing on energy transmission that can facilitate and increase the production and trade of renewable energy, such as increasing electricity trade from hydro-rich provinces to those with coal and other polluting power plants.
  • Collaborating on a strong energy efficiency program across provinces.
  • Provincial and territorial energy ministers have been tasked with implementation of the energy strategy and reporting back at the next premiers’ meeting, in the summer of 2016. All provinces need to recognize that Canadians want climate action. A recent poll showed that the majority of Canadians believe that protecting the climate is more important than building pipelines and expanding the tar sands.

When Will The People Have A Voice?

So when are the people of Canada going to have a voice in the future direction of their nation? Do the politicians really believe they can limit democracy to casting a ballot every four years?

Climate Change affects all of us.

Photo Credit: Climate march – Toronto – July 2015 Courtesy Environmental Defence

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