Energy strat­egy es­sen­tial

Mar­itime Prov­inces must de­velop cred­i­ble cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, adap­ta­tion plans

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - By Matthew McCarville, Cit­i­zens' Cli­mate Lobby, Char­lot­te­town, and sim­i­lar lob­bies in Nova Sco­tia, New Brunswick and na­tion­ally.

An open let­ter to Pre­miers Brian Gallant, Stephen McNeil and Wade MacLauch­lan:

You have im­por­tant work to do at the July 15-17 Coun­cil of the Fed­er­a­tion meet­ing in St. John’s, NL. Cana­di­ans are count­ing on their pre­miers to con­clude an agree­ment on a Cana­dian Energy Strat­egy. We im­plore you to com­mit to a pol­icy that en­sures the Mar­itime Prov­inces de­velop cred­i­ble cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion plans.

One of the largest mar­ket fail­ures in the history of the world has been the ex­clu­sion of the dam­ages caused by the con­sump­tion of fos­sil fu­els from the costs of these fu­els. Un­til this mar­ket dis­tor­tion is cor­rected, hu­man­ity is on track for a global tem­per­a­ture in­crease well above the 2 C limit mark by cen­tury’s end, which ex­perts agree will se­ri­ously com­pro­mise life, as we know it. It is time Canada and oth­ers in­ter­nal­ized the costs of car­bon pol­lu­tion.

Rec­og­niz­ing that global car­bon pric­ing is in­evitable, and that Cana­di­ans want Canada to re­claim its lead­er­ship role on in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, we urge the pre­miers, when de­ter­min­ing a car­bon pric­ing pol­icy, to con­sider these five core prin­ci­ples that must ul­ti­mately be syn­chro­nized across Canada, North Amer­ica and the world:

1) The need to es­tab­lish a steady, res­o­lute and ris­ing car­bon price;

2) The im­ple­men­ta­tion of an ef­fec­tive mech­a­nism by which costs are in­ter­nal­ized in­cre­men­tally, steadily and with no leak­age;

3) The com­mit­ment to a plan that is sim­ple, trans­par­ent and ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing emis­sions;

4) The prom­ise to in­sti­tute a de­sign that will build eco­nomic value at the hu­man scale, and

5) The ap­pli­ca­tion of a pol­icy that can be easily har­mo­nized, coun­try-by-coun­try, across borders.

We also urge pre­miers to call on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to host a first min­is­ters' meet­ing in ad­vance of the United Na­tions Cli­mate Ne­go­ti­a­tions sched­uled for Paris in late Novem­ber.

Cana­dian lead­ers must come to­gether to en­sure ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion on cli­mate pro­tec­tion and re­new­able energy de­vel­op­ment.

A meet­ing of First Min­is­ters should aim to agree to en­sure each ju­ris­dic­tion does its fair share in de­liv­er­ing green­house gas re­duc­tions and clean energy and that we ar­tic­u­late a process for mov­ing for­ward to­gether that in­cludes co-or­di­na­tion on car­bon pric­ing regimes.

The Mar­itime re­gion of Canada is al­ready feel­ing the ef­fects of global warm­ing. We have only to look at our U.S. neigh­bours' ex­pe­ri­ence with hur­ri­cane Sandy to see how a desta­bi­lized cli­mate, in­clud­ing higher ocean tem­per­a­tures and driven pri­mar­ily by global warm­ing, can do bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age to coastal re­gions.

The low-ly­ing Mar­itime Prov­inces are vul­ner­a­ble to At­lantic Ocean weather and changes to sea mass and tem­per­a­ture. Higher storm surges from sea level rise, caus­ing in­creased coastal flood­ing, ac­cel­er­at­ing coastal ero­sion, and prop­erty dam­age from in­land flood­ing are the most ob­vi­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions of our ge­o­graph­i­cal re­al­ity.

In an ar­ti­cle by Joe Romm en­ti­tled “The Cli­mate Science Be­hind New Eng­land’s His­toric Bliz­zard” he writes that “sea sur­face tem­per­a­tures are more than two de­grees Fahren­heit above nor­mal over huge ex­panses (1000 miles) of the east coast and wa­ter va­por in the at­mos­phere is about 10 per cent higher as a re­sult. About half of this can be at­trib­uted to cli­mate change.” With greater vol­umes of at­mo­spheric wa­ter va­por come more, and heav­ier, pre­cip­i­ta­tion events.

We in the Mar­itimes have seen this borne out with greatly in­creased snow and ice ac­cu­mu­la­tion cost­ing more for col­lapsed roof re­pairs and snow re­moval, health billing from falls, as well as the ef­fects of un­pre­dictable weather on crops. These man-in­duced changes point to the need for you as pre­miers to be­come truly pro­gres­sive and vi­sion­ary lead­ers in ad­vanc­ing a Cana­dian Energy Strat­egy that slows tem­per­a­ture rise, be­gins to re-sta­bi­lize our cli­mate and in­tro­duces a ro­bust and fair car­bon pric­ing pol­icy.


View of ero­sion along At­lantic Canada coast­line.

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