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Posted: August 29, 2021

A just transition is needed

Letter to the Editor

At a 1.3 degrees planetary temperature increase above pre-industrial levels, and heading towards 1.5 degrees by as early as 2028, we need to implement a transition away from fossil fuel extraction in the Elk Valley.

Bill C-12, the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, was introduced in November 2020 and rushed through second reading at the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee in May, with a scant 7.5 hours for hearings and consideration of amendments.

No youth, no Indigenous people, no climate scientists were called as witnesses before the committee, and most written briefs arrived after the deadline for making amendments had passed. Elizabeth May, who was present in the room and at the table when the 1987 Montreal Protocol (on reduction of production and elimination of use of Chloro-Flouro Carbons) was negotiated by the international community, proposed 37 amendments to C-12.

Each amendment (based on best practice bills passed by the UK Conservative and New Zealand Labour governments) offered detailed improvements on planning, developing mechanisms and means for setting targets, and full accountability to achieve stated goals. Of the 37, Liberals supported none, Conservatives one and the NDP five.

These three parties effectively impeded and delayed creating a just transition for fossil fuel communities all across Canada.

We urgently need to bring together governments, at all levels, companies, unions, workers and their families to develop retraining, job guarantees, income protection and re-settlement, if needed, tailored to the needs of each community.

In contrast, the NDP, for example, voted with the Liberals in opposing an amendment to include a 10-year planning time frame. An NDP member then moved an exact same worded motion authored by the Liberals, only to be told by the Chair of the Committee that since Ms May’s exact same worded motion had been defeated, the NDP and the Liberals could not now re-introduce the same worded motion. After an hour or more the Liberal-NDP majority finally came up with a wording that stated the time frame would be nine years and 367 days – one day more than Ms May’s original amendment.

It is time for a fresh face, new ideas and a different approach to politics in Ottawa, where the best ideas are used to build our future across partisan lines.

In the UK, the Conservative environmental caucus (with support of opposition MPs) just pushed their government into adopting a target of 68% emissions reduction by 2035. Currently our emissions here in Canada are 21% above 1990 levels and we have yet to achieve a single commitment made to the international community.

I am voting for Green Party candidate Rana Nelson as I want to send someone to Ottawa who will work alongside Elizabeth May and Paul Manly to support the building of a just transition off fossil fuels – for a future in which workers in the fossil fuel sector, their families and communities know that Canadians have their backs.

Andy Shadrack,
Retired Electoral Area D, Central Kootenay; and Past President Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments


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