You may have heard about Greta Thunberg’s devastating criticism of the climate crisis conference that took place last fall in Glasgow, Scotland. It expressed her frustration over the glacial speed with which our leaders are responding to our world’s climate crisis. An example is the agreement on eradicating the earth's forests, which won’t even start for another eight years. Eight years! That will probably mean that forests the size of many countries will disappear, just when we need those forests to capture and store carbon.
The excuse is, of course, that it is very difficult to get the consensus required when you are dealing with hundreds of countries, each with different situations, and different pressing needs.
So, what about Canada?
The answer is “Blah Blah Blah.”
While the prime minister has been speaking big and has promised much, the fact is our emissions — that were already the biggest in the world on a per capita basis — have grown every year since despite the promises made after the Paris Conference in 2015.
Countries in Europe, like Germany and Denmark, have shown that emissions can be reduced significantly — by 30 or 40 per cent — while still maintaining a healthy growth of the economy. Canada has chosen almost no action and has even continued large subsidies to the oil sector; which is exactly the opposite of what we need to be doing.
So, is Prince Edward Island doing any better?
Unfortunately, the answer here is also “Blah Blah Blah.” The government talks big — claiming to be the national leader in net zero—but the required action on the ground is completely lacking.
In his end of year interview, the premier boasted of his positive attitude towards a carbon tax. It is indeed unusual to hear a Conservative premier say he is “for” carbon tax, but it turns out that this is just another story by a master storyteller. While publicly being “for” carbon tax, his government is in fact spending $10 million a year of Islanders’ tax dollars to offset the federal carbon tax on gas doing the exact opposite of what he is telling us. What are they thinking?
Similarly, this government is still installing wood chip burners and burning tens of thousands of tons of wood chips a year. You would think it is a joke that they claim carbon credits for this and for planting new trees when the net result is huge emissions of CO2 and the devastation of thousands of acres of existing forests.
P.E.I. must approach the problem differently. The government seems to think that just proclaiming ambitious goals, such as net zero energy by 2030 and complete carbon neutrality by 2040, will do the trick. But such lofty goals mean nothing unless they are followed by immediate action designed to meet those goals. And to get there we need more than just the government to do their bit. We need the effort of every Islander. And we need those efforts now!
Please contact your MLA and express your concerns.
Ole Hammarlund, Green MLA Charlottetown-Brighton, is the Official Opposition critic for transportation and infrastructure.
This piece was originally published on Saltwire on February 5, 2022.