Energy strategy essential
Maritime Provinces must develop credible climate change mitigation, adaptation plans
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.