From the recent People’s climate marches in response to Trump’s policies in favor of corporate interests, to the mobilizations that happened around the Paris Climate Talks, communities continue to call for an urgent transition away from fossil fuels. Yet governments continue to approve and subsidize fossil fuel infrastructure. In response, we can equip ourselves with knowledge and a bold vision for 100% renewable energy by 2050. Here are three reasons why the government should invest in renewables, not pipelines.
Climate welcome delivery of solar panels to Prime Minister Trudeau in 2015
1. It’s the right thing to do
Either we can trap ourselves into 40+ more years of fossil fuels with more pipelines, or we can transition to renewables now. Our future could look like cleaning up spills, being unable to use and drink polluted water that surrounds us, and being surrounded by climate chaos. We already feel many of these consequences like the contamination of water and land for people living around oil development or the recent spill in the North Saskatchewan river which affected the drinking water source of 69,000 people.
At the Paris climate conference, we committed to a 2 degrees target. With the government approving new pipelines, where are the numbers that show we can still meet a 2 degree target? We can’t. A study shows that oil sands growth makes it nearly impossible for Canada to meet its targets.
In order to transition to a fossil free economy, it is critical to oppose projects that take us in the wrong direction, while also championing community clean energy solutions. Solutions must ensure a just transition for former industry workers, as well as that low-income, racialized and Indigenous communities are at the forefront and are among the first to benefit from this transition.
2. It’s the smart thing to do
While the oil market’s boom and bust pattern is unreliable, solar has become much more affordable. A recent report from Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) shows that the demand for oil and coal could peak by 2020 due to the falling price of renewables. In particular, the cost of solar energy is dropping, and electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular. Furthermore, renewable energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels whereby over 3 times more jobs are created per dollar invested than in fossil fuels or nuclear.
Council of Canadians chapters at Climate March 2017
3. It’s doable!
We already know that climate change is a problem. What is beginning to shift is the public acceptance of solutions. Three-quarters (74%) of Canadians say that they believe their province could shift most of its energy needs to clean, renewable sources.
It is inspiring to see leadership from Indigenous communities who are defending the environment, not only through legal challenges against pipeline projects such as Line 3, Kinder Morgan, and the Petronas LNG project, but also in community-led solar projects like by the T'Sou-ke First Nation Solar projects on Vancouver Island, Aki energy in Manitoba, and the Lubicon Cree First Nation using solar to power their health centre. Melina Laboucan Massimo, a project organizer of Lubicon Solar, said that "we can't just say no, we have to say yes to solutions and renewable energies like solar are one way to go."
Countries around the world are leading the charge and courageously shifting gears. Sweden has committed to going 100% renewable, and are calling on other countries to join them! 99% of Costa Rica’s energy came from renewables in 2015! Stanford professor Mark Jacobson drew roadmaps for U.S. states and over 100 countries, including Canada, to reach 80% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050, demonstrating that the potential is there, and that the transition is possible.
Rather than being part of the problem by approving new pipelines and financing fossil fuel subsidies, governments must respond to the challenge of our time by investing in renewables.
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With contributions from Emma Lui and Daniel Cayley-Daoust