Is it time for Canada to invest in next generation technology?
It is very tragic how the world has had to witness British Columbia and Alberta in the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute. Municipalities and First Nations had filed lawsuits against the project in 2017, and they were joined by Premier Horgan, in light of high environmental risks and inadequacy of consultations.
The truth remains today that Canadians do not want to lose opportunities for natural resource development and be left unable to meet the growing global demand for new energy sources.
However, consideration must be given that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to environmental degradation, such as poor air quality. Many immigrants actually came to Canada and still aspire to because it is well-known and respected deeply for its greenery and healthy environment.
The GRIP team is disappointed that the Government of Canada made a plan to bail-out Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion after being unable to meet its May 31st, 2018 deadline to reach an agreement with stakeholders.
We do not believe that air quality is of low priority to Canadians, especially after many British Columbians and Albertans, surrounding territories and provinces experienced living with poor air quality during the wildfires of Summer 2018.
Back in April of 2018, Dr. Jeff Sachs, Director of UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network had advised Canadian leaders in The Globe and Mail to instead invest in green energy, such as hydroelectricity. Canada was in the process of a green transition to replace oil dependency. Could a transition really begin if the government committed public funds to fossil fuel projects that posed environmental risks? What will happen after the green transition is complete and oil is no longer needed? The pipelines go bankrupt, and with it, all the public funding is lost.
On May 27th , B.C's Ministry of Environment informed the public that the Trans Mountain pipeline had leaked almost 5000 litres, and not 100 litres as the public thought initially. Robyn Allan, former President and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of BC estimated in the National Observer that the total cost of the pipeline expansion would be north of $15 billion to $20 billion for Canadian taxpayers, not just the $4.5 billion cost to purchase the old pipeline.
The solution has always been clear. Though many Canadians still depend on fossil fuels, purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline was and is an unsafe investment to make with public funds. It is neither environmentally nor financially sustainable.
Fossil fuel projects may be necessary to permit in moderation for basic needs to be met, but not more than that, and never with taxpayer money. The rising consensus is that Canadians can choose alternative fuels such as liquified natural gas (LNG), but an even better idea is to invest in zero-carbon alternatives. It is unwise to take the environment for granted and trade air and water quality for cancer-causing pollutants.
Keeping this in mind, GRIP calls on Elected Officials in Canada to foster a business environment that is attractive for green technology leaders. Tesla-style Gigafactories for renewable energy vehicles in BC, Alberta and other provinces are ideal for suburban and rural areas.
Investing in electric vehicle factories and neighbourhoods away from the urban centres is a plan that is aligned with Canada’s green transition. It is environmentally-friendly and profitable long-term, unlike fossil fuel investments which have an expiry date.
On October 2nd, BC Green Party Leader Dr. Andrew Weaver suggested on CBC Power & Politics that Kitimat, BC is one possible location for an electric vehicle factory.
Creating well-paying jobs and affordable neighbourhoods in Kitimat and other towns and rural areas will help to reduce issues that come with high density in urban centres, including the quicker spread of diseases, stress on urban infrastructure, and declining affordability. It would be a plus point if Canada were able to export next generation vehicles at no tariffs, as part of the free and fair trade deals underway.
Canadians, it is time to make history once again. When Canada implemented universal healthcare, the world smiled in awe and began following in Canada’s footsteps. Now is the right time to invest in next generation vehicles that will allow you to gift the next generation a land with more beauty than you were able to enjoy, not less.
Authors: Jashan Singh Randhawa & Jay David Milstein Date: May 2018 Edited: November 2018