As people throughout the world are practicing physical distancing and staying home, this behaviour has produced the corollary benefit of significantly minimizing GHG emissions and pollution levels. In a short period of time, we have begun to notice that animals are already reclaiming their habitats as human interactions decline; rarely seen dolphins and swans enjoy cleaner water on the Italian coast; the canals in Venice are clear again! And NASA images showed a drop in pollution over China during the coronavirus quarantine. Reports like these validate the belief that transitioning our economy to decarbonized industries and companies that feature a people, planet and profit approach is the way to a healthier future. It is in no one’s best interest to double down on last century’s carbon-based industries that are already at the end of their life cycle.
But have our governments heard this message? Just as the BCNDP last year, gave $6 billion dollars of tax breaks, royalty deferments and energy breaks to a dying fracking industry, last week it was reported in The Tyee that the Canadian federal government is planning a $15 billion aid package for the oil and gas industry. The package is expected to include a buy back of shares in this declining industry. Not only will the Canadian public own a leaky, old pipeline, we will become shareholders in a poorly managed industry that fails to understand its days must come to an end, and soon. It is recklessly irresponsible to divert Canadian taxpayer funds to a dying, harmful industry, when clean technologies continue to await financial support.
COVID-19 is an opportunity for us to realize we cannot continue to do the same things and expect a different result. This is our opportunity to pivot, and transition to a clean, decarbonized economy that takes people, the planet and profits into equal consideration.
We should be demanding that our federal and provincial governments target economic support packages to encourage the creation of new businesses and retraining programs for displaced workers. These are opportunities and jobs that promise a bright future for the economy and the environment.
Here’s what can happen when our governments finally start transitioning resources to a decarbonized economy:
- New, decarbonized industries will become “safe” investments, inducing massive innovation, wealth and job creation
- Banks and investment advisors will begin to include new, decarbonized industries in investment portfolios, driving global adoption of clean tech
- New, clean companies and industries will flourish creating secure employment
- A proper, legitimate global price on carbon will be established
- Polluting companies will include their carbon costs in their P&Ls
- We build a cleaner, more secure future for our children and all the creatures we share this planet with.
As the Leader of the BC Green Party, I will work tirelessly to establish British Columbia as the North American leader in the decarbonized economy.