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Alward climate plan fails to oppose Energy East pipeline

Photo: The Hopewell Rocks are under threat from climate change.

Photo: The Hopewell Rocks are under threat from climate change.

Despite its own report acknowledging the disastrous impacts of climate change on the province, the government of New Brunswick has announced only modest greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and failed to oppose heavy carbon emitting projects like the Energy East pipeline and fracking.

CBC reports, “The provincial government’s Climate Change Action Plan 2014-2020 says the annual cost [of coastal flooding] is expected to reach $730 to $1,803 per New Brunswicker by 2050. If New Brunswick’s population was 700,000 in 2050, that would put the annual cost of damage from coastal flooding in the province as high as $1.2 billion a year. The predicted per capita damage cost from coastal flooding in New Brunswick would be five times higher than the Canadian average.”

Among the various implications of climate change for the province:

  • “The sea level in New Brunswick is predicted to rise by 14 centimetres by about 2030 and by one metre by the end of this century.”

  • “High intensity precipitation events” will become more common.

  • “New Brunswick’s average annual temperature to increase another 3 to 3.5 C by 2100.”

  • Tourist sites such as the Hopewell Rocks will be at risk

  • Well water faces contamination by sea water

  • “Cold water fish species, including Atlantic salmon, stand to be impacted negatively by warmer water.”

  • More forest fires.

In response to this threat, the government of New Brunswick has announced a plan. The Canadian Press reports, “The plan released Monday aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 75 to 85 per cent below 2001 levels by 2050. It also restates a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, which was set in the province’s first climate change plan released in 2007. …The plan includes a list of measures such as reducing industrial and vehicle emissions. The government says it will promote electric vehicle use and will push for a shift towards the use of natural gas in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the freight sector.”

The plan does not include opposition to the Energy East pipeline, a rethink of the government’s support for shale gas drilling, or a step back from its controversial plan to increase logging in the province.

New Brunswick Premier David Alward has been a vocal supporter of the Energy East pipeline that would transport 1.1 million barrels per day from northern Alberta to New Brunswick and markets beyond. The Pembina Institute has calculated the pipeline would result in 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year (not counting the subsequent emissions related to refining, refined transportation, distribution and consumption). They also note that filling the Energy East pipeline would help spur 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands, a 40 per cent increase in extraction.

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has pointed out that a Cornell University study found that when you calculate the lifecycle greenhouse gases, fracking is worse than coal.

And Council of Canadians chapters in New Brunswick have called for a forest strategy that respects ecological limits and builds resilient communities and creates meaningful employment. Instead the Alward government intends to increase the amount of softwood the forestry sector can take from Crown land by 20 per cent.

The provincial election in New Brunswick takes place on September 22.