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Op-Ed: Disappointed, betrayed, but also hopeful

Montana Burgess
By Montana Burgess
October 5th, 2016

It’s been a rollercoaster month.

I’ve felt disappointed and betrayed, but also hopeful. Last week, I watched the Liberal Government stand with BC’s premier and approve a massive LNG pipeline and terminal project that would move natural gas across pristine northern wilderness and First Nations land to Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert, for export to Asia.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released a draft report in February that noted the project would be one of the largest emitters of carbon pollution in Canada. By approving this LNG project, the government betrayed its promise to consult meaningfully with First Nations and to do their fair share to keep climate impacts from getting out of hand.

This broken promise came just after another one. Two weeks ago, Ottawa announced it would not set tougher carbon targets to tackle Canada’s share of the climate crisis.

It will instead stick to the unambitious carbon pollution goals put in-place by the Harper government. They ignored our voices that gave input into the climate plan.

No one at the two Kootenay climate action townhalls in Nelson and Rossland earlier this year said, “please, build another pipeline, spill oil on the coast.”

However, in the recent announcment by the government it said it would put a price on carbon pollution. This pricing is planning “floor price” of $10 a tonne starting in 2018 and increasing to $50 by 2022. A $50 per tonne increase by 2022 mean gas prices would go up 11 cents per litre, according to a Global and Mail article.

Provinces, like BC, that already have some form of carbon pollution pricing will not have to adjust their plans or be more ambitious, as long as their plans meet the minimum pricing the government has set.

Alberta’s premier said Alberta would only support the 2022 carbon price if the federal government approves oil pipeline expansions.

My take on all this is that it is good the Liberals will put a price on carbon pollution, even though it is a token amount and will not phase out fossil fuels fast enough. It is bad that our province, several other provinces and Ottawa are trying to push pipelines through BC to get Alberta’s oil to foreign markets.

Canada joined the rest of the world in Paris last December and committed to keep global warming from going beyond catastrophic levels. Building new pipelines and carrying on with business as usual will not prevent the worst of the climate impacts.

We are some of the highest carbon emitters per capita, we can do more and it is our moral responsibility to do more for the most vulnerable people at home and around the world, as well as the animals and plants that do not have a voice in politics.

While we need to support those who can keep working to ensure our children have a safe and healthy future at the provincial and national levels, now, more than ever, we need to support the local transition to get off oil and onto renewable energy. We need to help our local decision-makers champion leadership at home and to the provincial and national governments.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety is working on a renewable energy initiative, 100% Renewable Kootenays, to support green jobs for workers and families, clean energy development, energy efficiency incentives and healthy communities.

If this climate news from BC and Ottawa has left you feeling confused, lonely, angry or frustrated, please, I urge you to not give up and stop trying.

Please contact the EcoSociety and join our people-powered movement. We can create the world we want and defeat big oil lobbyists. If we work together we can make big and beautiful changes. Our future is ours to create, but we have to work hard and we need to do this together.

Montana Burgess is the Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety. She has worked for non-profits tackling climate change for eight years and had attended over 25 UN climate meetings and a G20 summit.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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