We’ve come to a fork in the road. We need to decide if we are an ‘oil country’ or a ‘country of nature?’ Do we want the previous status quo, with its now-obvious holes in our health and social well-being nets, and its trajectory towards climate catastrophe? Or do we want to “build back better” in ways that fight climate change, inequality & injustice?
We talk about building a healthier, fairer, greener province based on a clean economy. We want to support strong climate and clean energy policies needed to build a resilient economy. We know the projects generated from a clean energy framework can put people to work in safe, healthy, well-paid jobs. We understand that a green recovery is a just recovery and we don’t want anyone to be left behind.
The Premier’s Economic Recovery Task Force is scheduled to release its findings from the 6 week public consultation process this month. The report aims to provide recommendations on how the $1.5 billion fund set aside for recovery spending will be deployed. A member of the task force, The BC Federation of Labour, submitted, “We must make up for lost time in addressing the climate crisis, with an accelerated and inclusive path to a green economy. The global collapse of oil prices is only the latest drastic swing in the fossil fuel economy — and one more sign that a sustainable future must rely on a swift transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.” They continue by saying, “We must look beyond economic indicators to human outcomes — our goal entails nothing less than the end of poverty, homelessness and other inequities. And it goes deeper: a meaningful connection to the communities they live and work in and with — even in times of crisis, with no exceptions.” Reading submissions like those of the BC Federation makes it sound hopeful that the BC Economic Recovery Plan will support a Green New Deal.
At the same time, however, we continue to invest in fossil fuel projects. The Trans Mountain Pipeline, owned by the Canadian Government, continues to be built despite knowing there is no longer a market in Asia or in the US to sell the gas; that we publicly committed to climate action in the Paris Agreement; we have a flawed consultation process with Indigenous communities; a failure to consider the risks posed by increased tanker traffic; ongoing protests and other concerns. We know that the BC Recovery Plan Task Force is represented in favour of heavy industrial business and is lobbying to have their projects be financially supported through the Plan.
The Report is scheduled to be released this month. Let’s see how well the recommendations reflect the importance of workplace safety, strong public services, and our collective responsibility to take care of each other. We have the chance to address those gaps, and to do much more. We can build back better than before.