Conservation Council of New Brunswick encouraged by GNB’s Climate Change Discussion Paper

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Fredericton, N.B. – The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says the Gallant Government’s discussion paper on climate change opens the door for a positive conversation in New Brunswick about how we can move toward a clean, green and lean economy.

The discussion paper, released Wednesday, May 26th, by Minister of Environment Brian Kenny is designed to encourage public participation in consultations that will soon be under way through the Select Committee on Climate Change.  Select Committee recommendations will inform development of an updated climate action plan for New Brunswick and will contribute to federal-provincial negotiations toward a Pan-Canadian climate plan.

Dr. Louise Comeau, Program Director for Climate Change and Energy Solutions at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomes the Government’s acknowledgement that there is a strong scientific consensus (95% to 100% probability) that human activities (burning coal, oil and natural gas and how we farm and manage our forests) are the dominant cause of the warming we are seeing today.

New Brunswick is not immune to changes in temperature and extreme weather that are associated with climate change. The Government’s discussion paper – “Building A Stronger New Brunswick Response to Climate Change” – notes “that average temperatures in New Brunswick are rising, high intensity precipitation events are more common, the sea level is rising, coastal areas are increasingly affected by erosion and flooding, and inland floods are occurring with greater frequency.”

Recent history illustrates what these trends mean to New Brunswickers. In December 2010 there were three catastrophic storm events that occurred in quick succession impacting Northern and Southern New Brunswick totaling $50 million dollars’ worth of damage to provincial infrastructure and homes.  More recently, on September 30th, 2015, New Brunswick was hit with a major rain storm that dumped between 111mm-168mm of rain on the Province in a 24-hour period. Fredericton and surrounding rural communities bore the brunt of the damage, but Moncton, Saint John, and St. Stephen weren’t spared. The total cost of repairs was estimated to be $15 million after initial assessments were made public in early October 2015. Just yesterday, Moncton was hit with a torrential rain storm that flooded areas along the Hillsborough Road with more than a foot of water, closing roads and leaving 1600 customers without power for a short time.

“The Province needs a comprehensive and aggressive climate plan that helps cut the pollution causing the problem and that makes our homes, communities and people safer from the risks that come from a changing climate,” said Comeau.

A visionary climate action plan is critical to spurring job creation and a thriving economy for the long-term. New Brunswick’s own research shows that a 15-year energy efficiency program would create 2000-3000 full time equivalent jobs and boost the total value of goods and services produced in New Brunswick by $300 to $400 million per year while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This could keep more New Brunswickers working here.

“We have an opportunity to share our ideas for a green economy.  We need policies and programs that are fair and cut waste by making polluters use clean energy and practice more sustainable agricultural and forestry methods. If we act together we can limit the risks to our health and communities from a more extreme climate,” concluded Comeau.

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Media contact: Mike Girard, 1-506-999-6431, mike.girard@conservationcouncil.ca