Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

25 Apr 2016

Leaping beyond carbon

Posted by Michael Keating

We have promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the reality is that we are going to keep producing and burning coal, oil and gas for years until we make a transition away from fossil fuels. Canada’s Leap Manifesto says the move to a more sustainable economy needs to be accelerated, with an end to new fossil fuel projects. Many governments, companies and workers are still wedded to industries that mine, pump and burn fossil fuels that are worsening climate change. Governments have promised to make a transition to clean energy, but it’s not clear when that will happen. The manifesto puts pressure on governments to be more specific.

This document was written last year by author Naomi Klein and her husband, filmmaker Avi Lewis, after meetings with a wide range of people, including unions, the anti-poverty movement, environmentalists and indigenous peoples. It caused a huge storm of controversy when it was raised at the NDP convention in Edmonton earlier this month. The manifesto calls for a number of changes, including expansion of low-carbon sectors of the economy, more local agriculture and more investments in infrastructure, including public transportation powered by renewables. It says that Canada should get 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources within 20 years and be entirely off fossil fuels by 2050. As part of the transition, it calls for “training and resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to participate in the clean energy economy.”

The hot button is a call for no new fossil fuel projects, including pipelines. That has brought strong criticism from many, including Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, who is pushing for new pipelines. Her government has promised controls on greenhouse gas emissions, but not elimination.

Last Friday, 175 nations, including Canada, signed the Paris climate accord promising to prevent a dangerous increase in global temperatures. That can only be done by major reductions in fossil fuel emissions. Instead of attacking documents like the Leap Manifesto, people need to be discussing how we can make a rapid move to a low carbon economy.

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