From 2001 to 2004, Joyce Murray was the British Columbia “Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection” – an executive officer in a government that didn't even want to acknowledge the “environment.” (To their credit, the provincial Liberals have dropped the conceit and once again take ownership of a “Ministry of the Environment.”)
Regardless of her government's record (Murray says, “I was not able to bring forward as strong a Plan for BC as I intended (for various reasons I will not go into here!),” the former minister has been speaking out about the worrying abdication of climate change responsibility at the federal level. She submitted this article to the Globe and Mail and to the Vancouver Sun to no avail. We think it deserves some attention.
BUDGET FAILS ENVIRONMENT
By Joyce Murray, MBA
The singular aspect to last week’s federal budget that sends shivers down my spine: Stephen Harper’s decimation of the budget for climate change initiatives.
How can the new Canadian government dismiss the prospect of an unimaginable worsening of climate impacts? We are already changing our climate globally at enormous cost - the destruction of the pine forest in BC is just a small taste of possible future disasters. We risk, in our and our children’s lifetimes, catastrophic changes in sea levels, ocean currents, and heat and rainfall patterns, which will threaten entire human populations, ecosystems, species, and food sources. Since I first researched and wrote about this issue fourteen years ago, the urgency has become much greater.
Climate change is the defining issue of our present generation; the one by which we will be judged. Global warming is as great a challenge to civilization as the threats to democracy the world faced in the 1930s. It requires as great a resolve, cooperation, and urgency. Political leaders who deny this problem to appease their “Big Oil” and corporate supporters will be condemned, as
Harper dismisses and criticizes the Kyoto Accord; he would pull
Last December in
Despite ongoing Conservative opposition to Kyoto-related action, the federal government did make considerable progress in recent years. Greenhouse gas reduction initiatives and incentives were woven into a wide variety of government policies. Capital funding was committed to help pay for necessary infrastructure like rapid transit in BC or replacing coal electrical plants in
Stephen Harper and his team have criticized the former government for the rise in emissions in
Sure, reducing emissions while growing a population and an economy is a complex challenge. But as with other complex international challenges the world has faced, there is simply no excuse for not taking vigorous action.
Fast forward to budget day 2006. What do we have now? A budget with billions cut from climate change programs. In their place, the Conservatives placed one lonely environmental program in the budget - it’s a 50 buck tax break next April if you ride the bus for a year. How laughable! How unacceptable. By scrapping most of the work that’s been done to date and declaring that they will start working on a new plan, Stephen Harper is undermining a decade of work by thousands of people across the country.
Please don’t be fooled by the Conservative promise of a “made-in-Canada” climate plan. What that really means is a Conservative plan of inaction; a climate change time-out for