Sierra Club BC Releases The Future Is Here—A Reality Check on B.C.’s Climate Leadership Aspirations

VICTORIA, B.C.— Sierra Club BC today released The Future Is Here, a report that provides a reality check on the climate challenges B.C. faces and a measuring stick for how well the B.C. government’s plan meets those challenges.

The Future Is Here was released with the B.C. government about to reveal its draft Climate Leadership Plan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meeting today with Premier Christy Clark and other provincial leaders in preparation for the Paris climate talks.

“The world turns its eyes to Paris at the end of this month and British Columbia has a chance to show that it understands the true meaning of climate leadership,” said Sierra Club BC executive director Bob Peart. “British Columbians expect to see a climate plan that recognizes the scope and scale of the challenge before us. If we see slickly packaged half measures, British Columbians will know that the oil and gas industry exercised its influence on this government to thwart meaningful action.”

Informed by the latest climate science, The Future Is Here is an urgent call to defend nature, stabilize the climate and transition to post-carbon prosperity. It shows that a radical transformation of B.C.’s natural landscape and biodiversity is already underway due to climate change, which will only intensify in coming years and increasingly impact B.C.’s communities and economy.

As one of its key recommendations, The Future Is Here calls for environmental reviews to include a climate test that assesses the upstream and downstream climate impacts associated with each proposal. LNG development would fail a climate test, as it is incompatible with any serious approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“If a proposed project would make climate change worse, it has no business being built,” said Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “Climate impacts are already hitting B.C. communities, our economy and jobs in the form of drought, wildfires, snowless ski hills and bark beetle infestations, yet the B.C. government continues to add fuel to the fire by pushing LNG expansion.”

The Future Is Here calls for B.C. to:

  • Stabilize the climate, by setting aside unburnable carbon, reducing emissions, putting a meaningful price on carbon and including a climate test in environmental assessments;
  • Defend intact nature to preserve biodiversity and natural carbon banks, and protect the ecosystem services on which our economy and human health depend; and,
  • Rapidly transition to an equitable post-carbon economy that leaves no-one behind.

B.C.’s current patchwork of isolated protected areas, fragmented wildlife habitat and management zones will be overwhelmed by the sheer scale and pace of climate-driven changes. Fifty per cent of the land must be protected or managed to ensure animals, plants and ecosystems can adapt, and that the drinking water and the soil base on which we depend will be protected.

“Any climate leadership plan worthy of the name needs to demonstrate a clear, rapid and achievable transition to a post-carbon economy,” said Peart. “But we cannot shift to a new economy while perpetuating patterns of inequality and injustice. First Nations must be full partners in this shift, and workers and communities provided meaningful opportunities and transition support.”

Clean, renewable energy sources are better for our climate and better job creators than fossil fuels. For every $1 million invested in fossil fuels two jobs are created, whereas fifteen jobs are created by the same investment in clean energy sources. By shifting fossil fuel subsidies and directing revenue from an expanded and increased carbon tax, the B.C. government can kick-start the transition to post-carbon prosperity.

Food security must also be addressed in any credible climate plan. With food supplies already disrupted by drought in California and elsewhere, B.C. needs to identify and set aside current and future farmland to ensure B.C.’s future food security. Step one in this process is cancelling construction of the $9 billion Site C megaproject, which would flood prime farmland capable of supplying fruit and vegetables to one million people.

The Future Is Here recognizes that much of B.C. is unceded land, subject to Aboriginal title and rights, and that land use decisions cannot occur on First Nations territory without free, prior and informed consent.

The Future Is Here can be downloaded here.

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Contacts:

Tim Pearson
Director of Communications
250-896-1556
tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Caitlyn Vernon
Campaigns Director
250-896-3500
caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca

Additional quotes:

The Future Is Here takes an important stand by insisting that, in a world increasingly disrupted by climate impacts, ‘nature needs half.’ That’s what the science tells us, and we ignore it at our peril. If we are to stem the frightening rate of habitat and species loss—which is undermining the very life support systems on which we humans depend—we must defend nature’s ability to adapt and to provide for us. The Future Is Here is a far-sighted rethink of conservation approaches, reflecting the need to adapt to climate change and transition into a post-carbon world.”

Dr. Philip Dearden, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

“Sierra Club BC’s The Future is Here report is a visionary document that outlines a clear plan. The City of Victoria also believes that working towards a stable climate means urgently protecting intact nature and transitioning to a prosperous post-carbon economy.”

Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria

“Indigenous Peoples around the world are already living with the devastating impacts of climate change, affecting our deep relationship to our respective territories – the land and waters – that have sustained us for generations. The climate crisis is a frank and honest opportunity for all of us to rethink our relationship to the land, but also how we relate to each other. Perhaps the greatest contribution of The Future Is Here is how it shows that caring for our environment and caring for each other are so deeply intertwined and that environmental justice and social justice must go hand in hand. I am hopeful we will come together to reconcile Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights at the same time as we find environmental solutions that work for us all now and for the generations to come. I urge everyone to read this document and ask how you can contribute.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs

“This report summarises how climate is changing in British Columbia, what the current and projected future impacts are, and how B.C. can contribute to climate stabilisation. It also clearly lays out what we and our governments must do to defend nature, enhance community well-being, and shift to a climate-friendly economy.”
Dr. Jim Pojar, Forest Ecologist

“The Sierra Club BC vision is spot on: governments must respond to global warming with urgency and holistically. This means we have to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels while transitioning towards a post-carbon economy. At the same time, we must ramp up our efforts to protect and restore nature and vital environmental services such as carbon storage in healthy forests.”
Kirsten Zickfeld, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University