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The Future is Here for the New Government of British Columbia

Record-breaking wildfires and heat waves are a reminder that we have little time to save nature, phase out fossil fuels and leap to a low-carbon economy, all at the same time.

Abnormally high temperatures in BC, August 3 2017. Image courtesy of TropicalTidbits.com

British Columbia’s unprecedented wildfires are still not under control. August is beginning with a new heat wave and no reprieve from the climate crisis for the new BC government. This ongoing state of emergency is a reminder that our planet is changing rapidly – and that our governments have to act like they mean it, to save our world as we know it.

BC has a unique opportunity and must play a crucial role in the fight against global warming. The province is outstanding due to its large size, spectacular beauty, and vast natural resources which together confer wealth on a relatively small human population. Our use of this abundance, however, has been in many cases short-sighted and unfair.

A new vision is needed. It is justified by the recognition that critical change is now coming at an increasingly visible rate.  We have significantly overstepped the planet’s capacity to provide what we demand, absorb the pollution we produce and heal the wounds we have inflicted on its natural systems. In many parts of the world, lives and business-as-usual are already being disrupted by an increasingly unpredictable climate.

Fortunately, solutions exist that enable us to save our natural systems while offering a sustainable lifestyle. Wind and solar are now beating the price of fossil fuel energy in a growing number of countries. Grid and battery solutions are being developed at a mind-boggling pace.

Renewable energy systems, improved resource and energy efficiency, mass transit, materials recycling and new service models like the sharing economy are contributing more and cleaner jobs than resource extraction sectors. Our province, like so many other parts of the world, needs the leadership necessary to quickly phase in solutions and phase out destructive activities. History shows that ecosystem breakdown makes societal collapse more likely. Now is the time to make the changes we need to make while relatively stable conditions prevail.

A coherent response to the climate crisis requires far reaching steps to reduce climate pollution, moving to low carbon economy and saving nature at the same time without pretending we can take one step at a time. Stopping the pollution from our old economic system is crucial to maintain a healthy environment as a basis for the new economy. Increasing protection of ecosystems on land and in the sea to safeguard environmental services is also tied to maintaining the foundations for long-term prosperity.

BC’s new provincial government made far reaching policy commitments for people and the planet. Sierra Club BC has developed a vision called The Future is Here to support the needed policy changes.  To defend our communities and environment now and into the future, BC needs to show leadership in three key areas – climate action, nature conservation and a low carbon economy.

Climate action

BC must follow climate science, meet existing emissions reduction targets and set new ambitious targets to exceed the Paris Agreement. We must expand and increase the provincial carbon tax and declare the majority of our vast fossil fuel reserves off-limits to extraction, based on the newest carbon budget research. We have sufficient renewable energy sources and low carbon solutions to become carbon neutral before 2050.

Nature conservation

Our environment is healthy enough that we can set aside fifty percent of it in support of nature. We need an expanded network of protected areas with new and existing land use designations that address Aboriginal title and respect cultural values, and give priority to species and carbon sinks while allowing appropriate uses.  We can allow species the means to adapt to the changing climate while protecting clean water, air and soils for our children. BC’s globally rare temperate old-growth rainforests are a particularly spectacular example of resilient ecosystems with outstanding values for species, communities and climate that we can save if we act today.

Low carbon economy

By redirecting resources and political priorities, we can create new, better and safer jobs and build a low carbon economy that maintains our high quality of life with a greatly reduced resource footprint.  We can and must phase out oil and gas activities such as fracking and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker proposal that destroy our environment and are increasingly uneconomic as international climate agreements are implemented.

Sierra Club BC’s The Future is Here vision includes ten recommendations outlining more detailed steps to address these three areas of action.

No government will be able to implement the scope of change required once the costs of environmental crisis and climate impacts become unmanageable.  As a wealthy industrialized country with a high carbon footprint we have the ability – and the responsibility – to pursue an alternative path. The new BC government has promised to start the change we need, so that we can avoid turmoil such as this year’s terrible wildfires in the future.

Check out The Future is Here and let the new BC government know you expect strong climate leadership.

It’s time for the BC government to curb raw log exports and boost value-added forestry jobs

February 27

Between 2013 and 2016, more raw logs were shipped from BC than during any other four-year period in the province’s history, prompting two forest industry unions and three leading environmental groups to call for a ban on raw log exports from old-growth forests and bold government action to stimulate BC’s flagging forest sector.

Raw log exports. Photo by TJ Watt.

The call follows new research released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC Office (CCPA-BC) that shows how exports of raw, unprocessed logs are surging. If these logs were processed in some of BC’s hardest hit forestry communities, at least 3,600 new jobs could be generated.

Last year, BC forest companies exported enough raw logs to frame nearly 134,000 homes, which equals roughly half of  Vancouver’s standing single-family homes. Instead of creating thousands of good-paying jobs in rural communities, logs are exported in raw form.

The Public and Private Workers of Canada along with UNIFOR (Canada’s largest private sector union), the Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee say the Province should enact a bold three-point plan to curb exports and stimulate jobs:

  1. Place an immediate ban on all exports of raw logs from old-growth forests.
  2. Immediately impose progressively higher taxes on log exports from second-growth forests to encourage investment in domestic mills.
  3. Introduce new policies to increase value-added forest manufacturing and jobs in rural and First Nations communities.

Four years of log export data analyzed by the CCPA-BC uncovered a number of disturbing trends in log exports from BC:

  • Between 2013 and 2016, nearly 26 million cubic meters of raw logs, with a combined sales value of more than $3 billion, were shipped from BC – more than any other four-year period since record keeping began.
  • More than one in three logs exported in the past five years came from BC’s centuries-old coastal old-growth rainforests
  • Most log exports in the past five years came from public lands under direct provincial control, not from private lands where the BC government has no jurisdiction, which is a sharp reversal from previous norms.

Vancouver Island rainforest. Photo by Charly Caproff.

Sierra Club BC is working toward solutions for healthy rainforests and healthy communities and worked with the BC government, First Nations and stakeholders on implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. Regional models like the Ecosystem-Based Management framework in the Great Bear Rainforest must be complemented with coherent province-wide conservation, climate and economic policies to ensure forestry can contribute jobs as part of a diverse, low carbon economy. For more information, please read our ten-point plan for transition toward this vision in our report, The Future is Here.

Please donate today to support our work protecting BC’s ancient and endangered old-growth forests.

Feature image by TJ Watt.

 

Have your say on B.C.’s climate action plan today!

Over the next 60 days, the B.C. government is seeking public input into a Climate Leadership Plan. The Province is considering the 32 recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team, a government-assembled group of experts.

At a minimum, Sierra Club BC believes these recommendations should be adopted by the Province. However, some simply do not go far enough for B.C. to do our part to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We encourage you to look over the Climate Leadership Team recommendations and have your say on how B.C. should move forward to reduce emissions and make our communities more resilient in dealing with the impacts that we can’t avoid.

Confessions of a Recovering Car Nut

By Gerry Gaydos  (Originally posted Sep. 2014)

Hi. My name is Gerry and I’m partly responsible for global climate change. Like so many of my cohort who grew up during the second half of the 20th century, I love cars! Especially ones that hug the corners!

In B.C., fossil fuel powered vehicles produce about 30% of our regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. North American motorists produce a disproportionate part of the global total GHG emissions.
I’ve owned 43 cars over my lifetime, and even though many of them were fuel efficient sports cars, I’ve been a continuous contributor to the burden of climate-changing C02. Not anymore. Now I’m driving a money saving electric car that also hugs the planet, and loving it!

So why would a guy like me ditch his passion for piston engines and go electric?

Here are 7 sound reasons:

1. NO tailpipe emissions! That means better local air quality and less climate change. Even where coal is burned to generate electricity, an EV will create half as much CO2, at the source, as a petrol-powered car at the tailpipe. In B.C. an EV is nearly 100% cleaner.
2. EVs are nicer to drive than fuel burners: more torque, quieter and smoother acceleration, music sounds better in an EV and  the ride quality is better without the noise and vibration of a piston engine, better handling because of a low centre of gravity (the battery is under the floor, and EVs never have noxious petoleum vapours in the cabin. In short, an EV driver has a more sublime motoring experience.

3. EVs promote world peace. Electricity is a local energy source. Canada still imports a whack of petroleum. Oil supply “security” is often at the heart of geopolitical conflict. Meanwhile, solar electricity to power your home, and your car, can be made from sunshine on the roof of your house, without toxic spills or military intervention.

4. How long can an EV run on sunshine? As long as there’s a sun in the sky, that energy can power your car. Is battery life expectancy a problem? Nope! My 12-year-old RAV4 EV with 90,000 miles (145,000 km) on the clock still has 90% of its original battery capacity. I can drive about 160 km on a charge.

5. An EV wont make a stink or wake the neighbours. Let’s be clear, the stink of car exhaust is only the beginning of the harm it does. As for the racket, for a century Rolls Royce has tried to engineer the noise out of their cars as a hallmark of their excellence. Quiet is a standard feature of any modern EV.

6. An EV motor has one moving part. A simpler drive system is easier and cheaper to run. EVs need virtually no service or replacement parts. About all you’ll ever replace on an EV are the tires, wiper blades and washer fluid. Even the brakes on an EV last longer because the motor acts like the brakes, during “regenerative braking”, and harvests the energy of the car’s motion, turns it into electricity and recharges your battery to slow the car down. How cool is that?

7. EVs don’t harm the ocean the way fuel burning vehicles do. A huge amount of CO2 gets absorbed by the oceans. That causes ocean acidification that many species can’t tolerate. The oceans have always been a major source of food for humans, but more importantly, half of the planet’s oxygen comes from the phytoplankton that live in the oceans. CO2 emissions are literally driving the biosphere into collapse, a crash that we won’t survive! Replacing internal combustion engines with electric drive, that can run on clean electricity, might help us steer clear of catastrophic damage to the oceans and our own demise.
Maybe you’re thinking you can’t afford an electric car. Ironically, beyond the lower initial price, you’ll probably pay more for a fossil fuel powered car over time. My fuel sipping Civic burned just shy of $2,000 worth of fuel each year, while my EV driven the same distance costs about $350 a year for electricity and maintenance combined!. But how do you deal with the higher purchase price of an EV? Buy used!

Nine months ago I bought my used RAV4ev for half the price of a new compact fuel burner. My 43rd car relationship is electrifying, it doesn’t demand so much energy, and it has enabled me to drive away from the pumps for good. It’s 12 years old, still drives like new, still gets great range, and does it all for the price of a cup of coffee each week. However, today I noticed the washer fluid is empty again . . .
Internal combustion is so last century.

gerry gaydos

Gerry Gaydos is a recovering car nut and Sierra Club BC volunteer who enjoys life with an EV in Victoria.

 Check out our New Climate Toolkit for Teachers

Although talking to young people about climate change can be challenging, preparing them to work towards solutions is an important part of their education.

With this in mind, our education team has developed a new teaching resource. Creating a Better Climate Future for B.C.: A Teaching Toolkit for Grades 6-8, outlines ten steps B.C. can take towards a safe and healthy future.

The toolkit was inspired by our new report The Future is Here, Sierra Club BC’s vision for a better climate future for B.C.

Sierra Club BC’s Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore teaching with our climate resources

We’ve created 10 infographics to explain the 10 steps and put together sample lesson plans and activities to accompany each infographic. Together the infographics and suggested lesson plans could constitute a whole unit on climate change and how we can build a better climate future together.

We wrote this toolkit with students in grades six to eight in mind. However, we also feel that many, if not all, of the activities can be adapted both for lower and higher grade levels.

Check out our range of teaching resources and we encourage you to share this new resource with educators you know.

 

 

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

The Future is in Tofino and Ucluelet

Join us to celebrate and discuss the transitions to a healthy, just, post-carbon society happening NOW!

Hosted by the new Transition Town Tofino-Ucluelet, the events will be facilitated by Sierra Club BC’s Energy and Climate Campaigner, Larissa Stendie, as part of their tour across BC highlighting green alternatives.

Tofino

Friday, November 13, 2015
Clayoquot Community Theatre, 380 Campbell St.
6:30 Innovators showcase
7:00 Featuring the award-winning film “The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People” (1h version)
8:00 Panel of local change makers & community discussion


Ucluelet

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Community Centre, George Fraser Rm, 500 Matterson Dr
2:00 Community networking social and showcase
2:30 Featuring the award-winning film “The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People” (2h version)
4:30 Facilitated dialogue on local alternatives and opportunities

Entry by donation (suggested $10)
Refreshments by Blackberry Cove Marketplace

If you’d like the chance to represent your sustainable organization, business or project, please contact David Floody, defloody@telus.net 250 725-3691

For other program inquiries about The Future is HERE, please contact Larissa at larissa@sierraclub.bc.ca 250 891 8245

www.sierraclub.bc.ca
www.thefutureofenergy.org

 

Tofino-Ucluelet Poster_HighRes