Lack of political will by consecutive governments holds climate action hostage: Comeau

New Brunswick’s first solar farm, outside of Sussex, N.B.

A lack of political will by consecutive provincial governments is holding back New Brunswick’s civil servants from taking stronger action on climate change, says Conservation Council consultant Louise Comeau.

“They can’t do anything if there’s no political direction, and that is the failure of this government, and the previous government, and the previous government, to do that,” Comeau told CBC New Brunswick on Feb. 7.

“I don’t care what [political party] they are. They’re all doing the same excuse-making, the same failure to say, ‘This is real, we have to change our behaviours.”

Comeau’s criticism followed the first three days of hearings by the the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship. Comeau says it was clear that little progress has been made on the 118 action items in the province’s 2016 climate change action plan.

She also called out MLAs for failing to raise a single question about the proposed iron processing plant in northern New Brunswick, which, if built, would put the province well beyond its carbon pollution reduction targets. She chided MLAs for not questioning whether it was realistic to use hypothetical emissions reductions in China to offset the iron plant’s emission increases, which both Premier Blaine Higgs and Liberal leader Kevin Vickers have suggested.

“We’re not having an adult conversation,” Comeau said.

Members of the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship include: Hon. Jeff Carr, Minister of Environment and Local Government; Hon. Mike Holland; Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development; Hon. Ross Wetmore, Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; Bruce Fitch (MLA,Riverview); Kent Arseneau (MLA, Kent North); Cathy Rogers (MLA, Moncton South); Andrew Harvey (MLA, Carleton-Victoria); Chuck Chiasson (MLA, Victoria-La Vallée); Jacques LeBlanc (MLA, Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap-Pelé); and Rick DeSaulniers (MLA, Fredericton-York).

Read the full CBC New Brunswick story: Climate hearings reveal slow pace of government action.

Listen to Louise Comeau’s full interview with CBC Shift’s Vanessa Vander Valk.