By Montana Burgess

Today in Ottawa, the federal government’s plan to cut carbon pollution, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, was announced during the First Ministers’ meeting.

It’s a big deal that the climate crisis is being acknowledged and discussed, and a national climate action framework has come out. Thousands of Canadians showed up this year – like the over 340 people who came to town halls in Nelson and Rossland – to demand green jobs, renewable energy and reduce carbon pollution. But the plan falls short of making sure Canadians don’t suffer the worst of the climate impacts, like forest fires, landslides and less snow to ski, as seen here in the West Kootenays.

The good
Putting a price on carbon across the country is important to make polluters pay as a mechanism to reduce carbon pollution. Before the carbon tax in BC was frozen at $30 per tonne in 2012, studies showed carbon pollution was dropping as carbon prices increased. Meanwhile BC’s economy has grown, its GDP has slightly outperformed the rest of Canada’s since the carbon tax was introduced in 2008.

It’s time to phase out fossil fuels, and carbon pricing is a way to get this started while generating revenue that should be put into the transition to 100% renewable energy.

The bad
Some provincial leaders want to put big oil before the health and safety of the people in their province. BC’s Premier, Christy Clark fought to not increase BC’s carbon tax. If you read BC’s climate plan, released on a hot August Friday afternoon this year, you’ll know it’s clear she loves natural gas. Saskatchewan refused to adopt the national climate plan because Premier Wall is ideologically against putting a price on carbon.

When it comes to policies, the devil is always in the details. If Canada doesn’t take action to make its carbon pollution reduction goals real, then all the plans in the world don’t matter. The people of Canada need to continue to demand implementation of a climate plan and accountability, while making sure we are indeed transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy on the ground.

The plan continues to commit Canada to a goal of reducing its carbon pollution by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, a target set by the Harper government, which is far below the fair share of a developed nation like Canada. And it’s not clear how we even get to that underwhelming goal.

We’re still subsidizing big oil with taxpayer money by almost $4 billion each year. This needs to stop. Imagine if big oil had to compete on par with renewables?

The ridiculous
Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet approved oil giant, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that directly affects us in British Columbia. The pipeline would carry 890,000 barrels of oil each day from Edmonton to Burnaby to be loaded onto oil tankers and shipped out. Expanding the amount of oil pulled from the ground means Canada will not meet its climate goals and will not do it’s fair share to keep global warming below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Canada committed to this in last year’s historic Paris Climate Agreement. However, I’m confident the people of BC will not let new pipelines be built and compromise the west coast.

Prime Minister Trudeau has repeatedly made commitments on reconciliation and Indigenous rights. Most First Nations have not given their consent to the pipeline to pass through their traditional territories. This is not reconciliation.

Where we go from here
The recent victory at Standing Rock, where the purposed pipeline is now scheduled to not be built on Standing Rock Sioux tribe land, shows that people power is alive and well. While settlers, like myself, need to keep working to build our people power and show our elected leaders that transitioning off fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy is our path forward, we also need to support Indigenous Peoples, and their rights and reconciliation. This is how we build healthy communities and a vibrant country we can be proud to live in for generations to come.