Breaking EcoNews — N.B.’s Climate Change Act

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So, we have a Climate Change Act for New Brunswick — something your Conservation Council has said we’ve needed for years.

Is it exactly what we had in mind (or even close)? No. But let’s start with the good.

The new bill, introduced in the Legislature today, does three very important, smart things:

  • It increases transparency in government’s climate change efforts — always a good thing.
  • It requires annual reporting on progress (or lack thereof) so we can see precisely how and where our carbon pollution reductions are coming from to meet our target.
  • It enshrines in law those pollution targets — adding much-needed legislative weight to good intentions.

Now, what it doesn’t do.

The bill doesn’t rise to the urgency of the climate change challenges we are trying to address. The proposed Climate Change Fund — fed by a ‘repurposing’ of a portion of existing fuel taxes — is definitely not enough to move us quickly into a low-carbon economy. And I sorely doubt it will meet the bar set by the federal government.

New Brunswickers are already suffering from extreme ice storms, hurricanes and flooding caused by climate change. We know that as citizens we have to change our behaviour and that we need industry to clean up its act, but there is essentially nothing in this bill to provide incentives or to help families make this transition in their own homes and businesses.

This is perhaps the greatest failing of the bill. There is no package of incentives that will help, for example, industry, small businesses and citizens move away from dirty gas-guzzling vehicles, put better windows in their houses, more insulation in their attics and basements, or switch the fuel they use in their restaurants.

These are the types of programs and incentives we need to break the back of carbon in our economy, and the longer we wait to put them in place, the more we lose a pivotal opportunity for innovation and job creation.

Your Conservation Council worked hard to get us this far — where we have, for the first time, an Act in the Legislative Assembly which opens with the phrase: “The science of climate change is clear,” followed by acknowledgement that a failure to act will lead to “irreversible and catastrophic impacts.”

It’s a start, but we’re nowhere near done. In the year ahead, we will continue advocating for the health and safety of New Brunswick families and do everything we can to push the government to develop smart programs and incentives to make this transition.

You can help us get more action on climate change in 2018 by making a tax-deductible donation to your Conservation Council today.

Thank you, always, for your continued support.

Jon

P.s.: You should also check out our press release on today’s legislation, which includes background materials, a list of N.B.’s biggest industrial polluters, and a link to the full text of the Climate Change Act.

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