Opinion

Can Emissions Actually Shrink While the Economy Grows?

justin trudeau emission economy

What does climate change have to do with economic growth? Canada’s prime minister and premiers signed a deal in December to “grow our economy, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.” The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines plans for carbon pricing, energy-efficient building codes, electric vehicle charging stations, methane emission regulations and more.

Is the framework correct in assuming we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the economy? If not, which should be given precedence?

Why We're Taking Canada to Court Over That Promise of 'World-Class' Oil Spill Response

Sunken Nathan E. Stewart. Tavish Campbell and the Heiltsuk Tribal Council

By Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett and Councillor Jaimie Harris, Heiltsuk Nation. This piece first appeared on The Tyee.

On Oct. 13, 2016, shortly after 1 a.m., Kirby Corporation’s tug the Nathan E. Stewart and its barge ran aground in the heart of Heiltsuk territory.

Less than eight hours later it had sunk, and 110,000 litres of diesel fuel and 2,000 litres of lubricants, heavy oils, other pollutants were released into the surrounding waters.

On charts, the area northwest of Bella Bella is known as Gale Passage, but to our people, this is Q’vúqvai.

What's Up with LNG in B.C.? Three Things You Need to Know

BC LNG Christy Clark

By Maximilian Kniewasser and Stephen Hui.

Under Premier John Horgan and the NDP, British Columbia’s government is no longer promoting liquefied natural gas exports as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to snag 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and more than $1 trillion in economic activity. Nevertheless, proposed LNG development remains a thorny issue to be tackled by the new provincial government.

This week, the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions published Liquefied Natural Gas, Carbon Pollution, and British Columbia in 2017, an update on the state of the B.C. LNG industry in the context of climate change.

Here are three highlights from our report.

Romantic Notions About the Arctic Must Include Indigenous Rights

Justin Trudeau Natan Obed Nunavut

Danita Catherine Burke, University of Southern Denmark.

The Arctic is many things to many people. In Canada, this malleability has made the region an incredibly valuable vehicle for nation-building and identity construction.

As a Newfoundland-born international politics scholar and author who researches Canada’s relationship with the Arctic, I believe that very pliability of the Arctic is an important feature of Canadian society, one that’s been cultivated for decades. The Arctic has intrigued many of us for myriad reasons since Confederation.

Canada’s most famous painters, the Group of Seven, focused extensively on the Canadian North in their work and Lawren Harris, in particular, immortalized the imagery of a vast frozen landscape devoid of life into the national psyche and brand.

The Search for Trans Mountain’s 15,000 Construction Jobs

Trans Mountain pipeline construction

When Prime Minister Trudeau announced approval of the Trans Mountain project he said the expansion “will create 15,000 new, middle class jobs — the majority of them in the trades.” 

Natural Resources Minister, Jim Carr, repeatedly points to this figure to justify Ottawa’s approval. He says, “the project is expected to create 15,000 new jobs during construction.”

Alberta Premier Notley relies on it too. “Initially we’re looking at about 15,000 jobs…” Former Premier Christy Clark said, “And then there’s Kinder Morgan, 15,000 new jobs…”

When the figure of “15,000” for new construction jobs emerged, I was confused. Kinder Morgan told the National Energy Board (NEB) that construction employment for the project was an average of 2,500 workers a year, for two years. It was laid out in detail in Volume 5B of the proponent’s application. 

Why would elected officials promote a construction jobs figure six times Kinder Morgan’s actual number?

The Massey Bridge: A Boondoggle Bought by Big Money?

Massey Bridge

By Arie Ross for Dogwood.

Why did the BC Liberals prioritize a project that could harm local communities, the Fraser River and farmland?

On the 601 bus to my hometown of Tsawwassen, I watch as bulldozers uproot the evergreens adjacent to the farmland along Highway 99, making way for a costly ten lane bridge built in the interests of industry. I imagine dredgers forcing themselves on the river bed, scraping at the sediment and defiling the critical salmon habitat.

The colossal pet project of the BC Liberal party — the controversial $3.5 billion Massey Bridge forced upon unwilling municipalities — is just another reason why we need a corruption inquiry in B.C.

Embattled Taskeo Mine Permits Show Why B.C. Needs an Environmental Assessment Overhaul

Fish Lake near the proposed New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz

By Gavin Smith, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law Association. This piece first appeared in the Vancouver Sun.

B.C.’s new government is already seeing proof that it made the right move when it committed to reform environmental assessment and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity mine proposal, back in the spotlight again for another round of litigation, is a poster child for the failings of B.C.’s environmental assessment regime — and the need for change.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government is currently seeking an injunction to prevent Taseko from digging test pits and conducting geotechnical drilling under provincial approvals granted in the last days of the outgoing government.

The proposed mine would be located within an area of Tsilhqot’in territory that includes Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized constitutionally protected Tsilhqot’in hunting and trapping rights in the area. The region is also near to, but outside, the lands in which the Court recognized Tsilhqot’in aboriginal title.

Eclipse of Reason: Why Do People Disbelieve Scientists?

Eclipse glasses

By Bryan Gaensler

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that on Aug. 21, we’re in for a special cosmic treat: the Great American Eclipse of 2017.

The moon’s shadow will track a 4,000-kilometre course across the continental United States from coast to coast, beginning with Depoe Bay, Ore., and end after 93 minutes in McClellanville, S.C.. As a result, tens of millions of Americans will be treated to that rarest of natural wonders: a total eclipse of the sun.

When B.C.’s Wildfires Are Over, What Comes Next?

BC Wildfire 2015

British Columbians have been suffering through some of the worst wildfires in memory. These latest fires are turning out to be even more devastating than the horrible 2003 Kelowna fires that saw more than 27,000 residents displaced and the loss of 239 homes in B.C.’s lake country.

It’s hard to overstate the impacts of this latest wildfire disaster: as of last week, more than 45,000 people had been displaced or evacuated. While some of them have been able to return home, they’ll be returning to the tragic sight of burned down homes and a whopping 4,000-plus square kilometers of burned forest. The wildfires this summer have been so severe that the province declared a state of emergency for the first time since the Kelowna fires.

Why B.C. Needs a Corruption Inquiry

Christy Clark and Petronas CEO Tan Sri Dato

This is a guest post by Lisa Sammartino, the democracy campaigner for B.C.'s largest democracy group Dogwood. It originally ran on The Tyee.

Christy Clark rounded out her final days in office with a parting gift — not to British Columbians but to a loyal BC Liberal donor, Taseko Mines. The company donated more than $130,000 to the BC Liberals, and now they’ve scooped up Clark’s prize.

While members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation were being chased from their homes by an aggressive wildfire, Clark’s outgoing government approved exploratory permits for the company to dig up their traditional, and constitutionally protected, lands — an area so culturally and environmentally important that Harper’s Conservatives rejected federal permits twice.

But then again, the federal Conservative party can’t accept corporate donations. Over here in the “Wild West,” Clark’s BC Liberals can, and did.

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