Sustainability conference included First Minister’s Meeting
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
GLOBE 2016, a sustainable business and energy conference, took place from March 1–3 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The most prominent event was the First Minister’s Meeting, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with several indigenous leaders in addition to the premiers of all provinces and territories to discuss climate change.
The meeting covered how to address climate change as a country in an attempt to harmonize national measures on ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Prominent announcements of the meeting included budget allocations of more than $125 million for sustainable industry growth. Meanwhile, $75 million will go towards The Federation of Canadian Municipalities to help climate change reduction in communities. Another $50 million will be spent “to improve climate resilience in design guides, and building and infrastructure codes,” according to Trudeau.
Solutions to reduce carbon emissions in Canada included a proposed national carbon tax. This tax may take the form of a single-payer increase, as is the case in BC already; an emissions-trading tax incentive that provides economic incentives for reducing carbon emissions; or some combination of these.
In his opening speech at the conference on March 2, Trudeau discussed economic growth in Canada while reducing its overall carbon footprint.
“… We must continue to generate wealth from our abundant natural resources to fund this transition to a low-carbon economy,” he stated according to CityNews, addressing the difficulty of balancing economic and environmental goals. “The choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal. And as we continue to ensure there is a market for natural resources, our deepening commitment to a cleaner future will be a valuable advantage.”
Evidently, all leaders are hoping to move towards a position where Canada is less dependent on fossil fuels, but the best way to determine that outcome varies greatly. At this rate, the focus is on finding greener solutions that can be agreed upon by all federal and provincial leaders.
Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, has discouraged any sort of increased price or tax on carbon, and heavily supports Canada’s thriving oil/gas industry.
“We know that fossil fuels will continue to be burned around the world… Do Canadians want to be a part of meeting those fossil fuel needs? … If the answer to that is yes, then we have to build some pipelines,” Wall told reporters at the conference.
Other leaders who disapproved of a tax included Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.
Pipelines continue to be a controversial environmental issue across Canada, particularly in BC. Trudeau himself noted in a following conference: “We all know we have to get beyond fossil fuels, but we are simply not there yet… There is little substitute for sitting down together.”
Trudeau denied that the Liberal government has encouraged an increased use of fossil fuels, and stated: “Actually, what we’re trying to do is decrease consumption of oil and gas. That’s where the investments in renewables, the investments in clean tech, are such an important part of our vision for the future.”