The countdown to this most important provincial election leads me to contemplate how the energy economist and former Harper government adviser Mark Jaccard found himself arrested by blocking a coal train in White Rock.
Jaccard was a Nobel Prize winning (2007) member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was appointed by Harper to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
This advisory body was tasked with producing a plan to back Harper’s promise in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 per cent by 2050 and 20 per cent by 2020. (In 2009 Harper further reduced his goal to cut emissions to 17 per cent by 2020).
By the spring of 2012 the Auditor General’s report, Meeting Canada’s 2020 Climate Change Commitments, his commissioner on environmental sustainability, Scott Vaughn, noted, “It is unlikely that enough time is left to develop and establish greenhouse gas regulations … to meet the 2020 target.”
Instead, Canada is on the path to be “7.4 per cent above its 2005 level instead of 17 per cent below.”
(In late 2011, Canada formally withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol (to the shock and dismay of the international community and many Canadians).
Harper then axed the the national round table on the environment and the economy after it urged Harper to set a national cap on carbon emissions.
As long as carbon pollution is unrestricted there is no market incentive for low carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, building retrofits, public transportation, and electricity plants powered by hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and natural gas with carbon capture and storage. (The Accidental Activist- TheWalrus.ca).
Harper set his 65 per cent reduction for 2050 in line with a global effort to prevent a temperature increase that exceeds 2 degrees (Celsius).
Our current path leads to an increase of 6 to 8 degrees by 2100, which scientists predict will acidify oceans, cause massive species extinction to rival the other 5 great extinctions in our planets history. Life as we now can not survive in a world 6 to 8 degrees hotter.
Is 2100 too far away to contemplate? Are you hoping for mirrors in outer space to deflect sunlight? Are you frantically digging a hole to bury your head in?
Not my problem, you say? A child born this year (think of your grand children) would be a mere 87 years old in 2100.
Albert Einstein said, “Those who have the privilege to know have a duty to act.”
We know the climate scientists are right. We know that delusion, greed, fear, self-interest and convenience will prevent us from acting, even when the outcome will be devastating.
We know the provincial and federal governments are not owning up to the the blatant contradiction between their climate promises and their aggressive effort to expand fossil fuels.
It is time for us to act. Vote with your conscience on May 14. Do it for the children born today.