In announcing last week that the province aims to double oil and gas production by 2030, Premier Dwight Ball demonstrated that his government is shirking on its climate crisis responsibility and leaving the province behind in the ongoing global green energy transformation, instead of leading it.
In prioritizing fossil fuel development — the primary source of emissions causing global climate change — the government is moving even farther away from addressing the world’s most pressing crisis. The government must take a different path, one that safeguards our climate and our economy for the long term. We outlined many of these opportunities this month in our submission to the province’s climate plan development process.
To keep pace with the global energy transformation that is now underway, the premier needs to bolster support for renewable energy production, energy efficiency, and the electrification of our vehicles. These initiatives would bring considerable opportunities for local job creation. Other great examples can be found in Gibson et al. 2016 “A Better Future: Building a Jobs-Rich, Fair and Sustainable Economy for Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The risks of deepening our province’s dependence on the oil sector are clear. We now know all too well the danger of basing our economy on a sector prone to busts. This will only worsen as fossil fuels become “stranded” and devalued in the green energy transformation. Indeed, most of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves cannot be utilized in order to meet global climate change targets, let alone undiscovered reserves.
Moreover, we are already witnessing the impacts of climate change globally and locally, particularly in northern regions like Labrador. But we have experienced the impacts of changing seasonal conditions all across the island, notably on the west coast of Newfoundland this winter when severe flooding and rainfall caused by unseasonably warm temperatures resulted in states of emergency and extensive infrastructure damage.
The reality is that we need to wind down our dependence on oil and gas development. We know this will take time — it can’t happen overnight. But instead the premier is committing the province to decades of moving in the opposite direction. Increasing oil and gas development does not set us down a path toward a green economy, no matter how the premier might talk of “greening up” the industry.
The global community has begun to wind down fossil fuel production in light of the industry’s major climate risks. Just in the last three months, Norway, France, Ireland and Belize have announced various types of restrictions on oil and gas exploration given the local environmental and global climate change impact of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the World Bank declared it will no longer provide financing to oil and gas projects.
Climate Watch NL is a citizen’s network that envisions a minimal carbon economy for Newfoundland and Labrador by 2050. Citizens can join our group and find out more at www.climatewatchnl.ca
on behalf of Climate Watch NL