Environmental ministers at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels have recently promised to implement measures to ensure a better quality of air across Canada. This is surely an issue that all Canadians, especially those of us in BC, can get on board with.
Considering that the focus of the new standards will be industrial emissions and air quality, BC is in good shape. We already get over 90% of our electricity from clean sources, and our environmental paradigm is increasingly shifting toward even better green sources of energy, like run-of-river and solar energy, whose emissions are next to nothing.
Some provinces may cringe when these new rules for better air quality are implemented, but BC is not one of them. Our green energy potential will easily allow us to meet and even surpass the tougher air quality standards that are coming our way.
These new standards will also create a new opportunity for BC: selling our green energy bounty to other provinces, and even the US, which is currently involved in the talks for tougher air quality standards.
Alberta became extremely wealthy selling non-renewable, polluting forms of energy to other provinces, to the US, and overseas. But now that energy wheel of fortune is turning green, BC is the province that could become wealthy and perhaps even eliminate the provincial portion of the HST along the way. Alberta showed how it can be done; but BC can show how to do it green.
Innovative technologies are usually developed with the aid of private, outside investment because of the uncertainty involved in new projects and cutting-edge technology. It is too bad that potential investment in green technologies is getting bogged down in a regulatory swamp.
Given the importance of technological progress in the field of energy production, both for humanity and for Mother Nature, it is crucial that public policy moves toward a more attractive regulatory system that will encourage potential investors to make their contribution to BC rather than to the US, which does not have a redundant double (provincial and federal) environmental review process.
BC’s provincial government has taken major steps in this direction, which is good to see, but there is much more to be done, particularly at the federal level. The huge number of separate regulatory agencies (up to 20) and the extremely long application processes that are currently in place are hindering the growth of green energy production and need to be streamlined to allow a cleaner, greener BC to flourish.
WWI Veteran: Don’t Settle for War
Harry Patch, a British First World War veteran who died in 2009 at age 111, described war as the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings” and said that “war isn’t worth one life.” He urged that disputes be settled by discussion and compromise rather than fighting.
The governing institutions that we devise are extremely influential in determining whether contentious issues can be resolved by legal and judicial means, rather than by military conflict. For example, Germans and French were at war during the time of Napoleon, then again in 1871, again in 1914 and once more in 1939. But today, as part of the European Union, these countries participate in a shared currency, enjoy open borders, and elect representatives to a common European Parliament. The threat of a general European War has receded to practically nil.
On the international scene, we can similarly start building the institutions and consciousness of a global community by supporting the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations (detailed at www.unpacampaign.org). Building the next generation of governing institutions would be a much wiser focus for our resources and intelligence than a fatalistic resignation to violence, and a never-ending search for ever more destructive and insidious techniques of warfare.
There are a number of reasons why Premier Campbell’s resignation marks a sad time in BC’s history, but there is one issue in particular that worries me: the future of alternative energy in BC.
Under Premier Campbell, BC’s clean energy momentum increased dramatically. Whether it was the Clean Energy Act, $100s of millions in funding for clean energy initiatives, or simply his passionate commitment to a greener legacy for future British Columbians, Campbell was consistently fighting for energy alternatives to fossil fuels. His shoes will be hard to fill, indeed.
Whether our next premier will understand the dire necessity of a healthy and growing alternative energy sector remains to be seen. The future of solar, tidal, wave, wind, run-of-river, bioenergy, and geothermal sources is, after all, less certain than the future of oil and gas. But given the gravity of the issue for BC’s future prosperity as well as for the health of the planet, I hope our next premier takes Mother Earth’s call to sustainable living as seriously as Gordon Campbell did.
I just arrived home from a six week trip to Australia (to attend the wedding of a niece and visit my brother and his family including nieces and grandnieces) where I was inspired by the number of eco-friendly projects I saw across the country. Australia has a very imaginative population.
In addition to windmills powering farmland irrigation and solar panels on rooftops and road signs, people in the Outback use “grey water” (recycled water from laundry, dish washing, and bathing) for just about everything. Even their drinking water supply is supplemented from rain water storage tanks.
If that is what the flattest continent in the world is doing with its water to help keep the planet healthy, just imagine what BC–with it’s rainy climate, mountains, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls–could do! Our eco-friendly water options, especially when it comes to improvements to our hydro dams system and building run-of-river hydro power, are way better than Australia’s. BC could set a great example for future generations around the world to follow.
The Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Cancun will hopefully be able to address climate change with honesty and pragmatism, unlike last year’s Climate Conference in Copenhagen which did little more than allow certain international leaders the chance to swell their already over-inflated egos with grandiose promises and outlandish requests for financial commitments.
The G20’s last meeting, which just finished up in Seoul, Korea, showed signs of promise. The focus has begun to switch from simply reducing existing emissions (which is very important) to developing non-emitting forms of energy (which is even more important). As a closing statement of the Seoul meeting said, “We are committed to support country-led green growth policies that promote environmentally sustainable global growth along with employment creation while ensuring energy access for the poor.”
Finally, the 20 biggest economies in the world seem to be recognizing that the growth of alternative energy options is the most important issue when it comes to the future of climate change; after all, if we don’t find a way of freeing ourselves from the yoke of fossil fuels–and simultaneously boosting the economy to make the energy accessible to everyone–what good will all our efforts have been? Judging by the current state of affairs, the Cancun G20 meeting’s “green growth policies” could find that their best chance at success is in Canada, BC specifically, and I for one am very happy about that.