Better leadership on climate change needed from Dwight Ball
On June 6 of this year I wrote Premier Ball, asking him a relatively simple question. In the days previous to that he had been enthusiastically public in his support of the TransMountain Pipeline expansion project, which (if built) would bring enormous quantities of unrefined oilsands product to the Pacific coast for export.
I suggested that removing barriers from Alberta’s right to wheel energy resources through British Columbia might have some positive precedent to Newfoundland and Labrador, inasmuch as we have had issues with wheeling power through Quebec, to say the least. The question was related to his statement on Trans-mountain, quoted in the Telegram on April 17, which read: “this is not about the environment versus the economy. I firmly believe that the two can coexist and be very successful.”
I suggested to Ball that while this statement was vague, it was roughly similar to statements I had heard from the premier’s office previously, and that the broad message was discernable. The premier believes, as do many of us, that a growing economy can co-exist with a sustainable environment.
We need not sacrifice one to achieve the other. Around the same time the premier announced it was the intention of his administration to oversee a doubling in offshore oil production in this province. He well knows that Canada has committed to steep net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris Climate Agreement. Trans-mountain is planned to be built in parallel with a oilsands production growth that will (according to Bill Mckibben and others) account for fully one third of the global emissions that will take us to 1.5 C mean temperature rise. The implications of this scenario are well documented, and terrifying, on global fisheries, agriculture, sea level rise, catastrophic storm events and
I pointed out to the Premier that you cannot subtract by adding. If we have oilsands expansion, if we double offshore oil production in Newfoundland and Labrador, the question whether it is feasible or even possible to have any net emissions reductions is pretty much assured, which is to say that we cannot. other outcomes.
I pointed out to the Premier that you cannot subtract by adding. If we have oilsands expansion, if we double offshore oil production in Newfoundland and Labrador, the question whether it is feasible or even possible to have any net emissions reductions is pretty much assured, which is to say that we cannot.
In order to meet our commitments while emissions from these projects climb, it would be necessary to make radical reductions elsewhere that everyone knows will not happen (a halt to all air travel, as an example).
So I asked the Premier to expand upon his quote in the context of Trans-mountain; how does he see this as meeting his goal of a healthy economy side by side with a sustainable environment? After not having received a reply, two weeks after I sent the letter I called the Premier’s office.
A staffer very quickly retrieved the letter and confidently told me that I should expect a reply the next week. Two weeks after that, on July 5, I called again. The staffer who took that call also said a reply was pending and that she would call me back with further details. This is the last contact I have had, and I am not holding my breath. The fact is, our provincial (and fed- eral) climate change policies are shams. When our leaders speak of oilsands expansion as part of a “Pan-canadian Framework” or that healthy economies and sustainability “can coexist and be very successful” (while actively undermining one), when they ignore uncomfortable questions like mine, they are giving climate change lip service, hoping we don’t notice or don’t care.
The fact is Canada is an emissions hog; we punch way above our weight class in contributing to the pending climate catastrophe.
Either we get serious about climate change or we will destroy the life-sustaining capability of the only climate we have. Regarding climate change, as with many policy issues, we need better leadership than that displayed by this premier.
Federal Council Representative – Newfoundland and Labrador Green Party of Canada