If humanity is to be successful at transitioning to a green economy, our present way of life will have to go through a major shift. In the past two hundred years, we have built an economy that is almost entirely dependent on burning oil, resource extraction, and the idea of endless growth. All of this has to change. But the scope of such a change is huge. So far, very few governments have begun a serious move towards a green economy and many people have a hard time visualizing such a change. Governments must lead on this issue.
Some of the immediate things that need to be done are:
Subsidizing and developing more wind and solar energy;
Developing electric-powered transit and moving cities away from dependence on cars;
Stop the clear-cutting of forests, the development of wetlands, and plant more trees;
Add the environmental impact of resource extraction to the costs of such extraction
Create a circular economy that uses waste products from such extraction.
` There are many other things that must be changed. Right now, the federal government and the BC government heavily subsidize oil and gas extraction. Such subsidy money could go into transit, modifying houses and office buildings through insulation and rebuilding wetlands, and re-creating forests. Carbon capture and storage also need much further investment and research. New sustainable technologies will play a strong role in dealing with climate change.
Climate change is not a political issue; it is science-based. Unfortunately, the oil and gas companies have spent heavily on lobbying and propaganda to keep politicians and ordinary people from understanding the threat of climate change.
The New Democratic Party would begin an important shift by taking the politics out of climate change and setting up a science-based federal-provincial model that parallels what was put in place for COVID-19. When the world’s scientists first told governments about the threat to the ozone layer, they were able to reach a consensus fairly quickly on a solution. When the threat is urgent and imminent, governments can make the necessary moves towards a solution. Governments need to listen to science, not oil and gas lobbyists.
Making the transition to an economy that takes climate change into account will take time and scientists are worried that it will take too much time. Already, climate change is taking a harsh toll on people’s lives through flooding, hurricanes, forest fires, drought, and other weather events. In making decisions about the transition to a greener economy, governments need to consider the rights of future generations and what kind of future issues they might have to deal with.
The NDP has a plan to “create over a million new good jobs in all communities and rebuild local economies with meaningful, family-sustaining work in every part of the country, all while helping to make the changes we need to succeed in a low carbon future. New Democrats know that skilled Canadian workers - construction, trades, engineering, and others - will be needed to build a low-carbon economy.” (https://www.ndp.ca/climate-action)
The Canadian Labour Congress has also called for the creation of one million new jobs through investment in renewable energy, building retrofits for energy efficiency, expansion of public transits, and the creation of high-speed rail.
The NDP right now is the only party that is prepared and has a plan to actually do something to address climate change, the most urgent issue of our time.
Luanne Armstrong MFA Ph.D
August 25, 2021