The Supreme Court is Canada’s most respected authority, providing us with a moral compass for our actions. This is especially true for politicians, because their actions will shape society’s future. So here are the Court’s words regarding the current climate emergency: “Global climate change is real caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities….a threat of the highest order that cannot be ignored.”
Unfortunately, the scientific evidence confirming climate change has been ignored by many politicians for many years. As a result, carbon emissions in B.C. are not decreasing, as they must.
Ten years ago, scientists said we needed a one per cent reduction in carbon emissions each year to defend against catastrophic changes in our climate — a big effort. But since almost nothing has been done, that goal is now five per cent — this will require a war-like effort.
An example of this political failure to recognize climate change as an historically serious emergency is our NDP government’s plan to export gas using fracking, LNG pipelines and large tanker ships. In terms of the danger to our atmosphere and climate, producing gas is as reckless and dangerous as mining for coal.
High carbon dioxide levels from burning gas will lead to more massive forest fires world-wide, which will release more carbon emissions, which will cause more droughts, which will result in more, even bigger, fires.
And the cost? Well, all taxpayers will pay to fight these fires, restore entire forest ecosystems, and even rebuild whole towns. And yes, that means higher taxes.
In their recent ruling on the legality of the federal carbon tax, those Supreme Court words deliver an undeniably clear message that we must phase out the use of carbon fuels like oil, gas and coal — or pay an increasingly huge price in terms of both money and human suffering.
And since all politicians are morally obligated to care for citizens in an emergency, they are now obligated to plan for buildings, industry and transportation systems that do not burn fossil fuels. We should tolerate no less from them.
After all, Canadians would not have elected or tolerated any politician who supported Germany or Japan during World War II. That war was an emergency and politicians acted appropriately; turning car factories into tank factories — in less than one year.
Well, now we have a climate emergency. And the words of the Supreme Court reflect its sense of urgency: burning fossil fuels is a threat “of the highest order” that “cannot be ignored.” Surely this must mean that politicians have a moral duty to act quickly.
It will not be easy. But we have the technology to phase out fossil fuels much more quickly than politicians are currently planning. And hopefully these words from our Supreme Court will, in simple english, get them off their butts.
Politicians and their administrators must set a goal of zero carbon emissions. If they cannot perform this duty, they must resign.
Peter Nix is a climate change activist and Cowichan Carbon Buster.