Legit Environmental Assessments and Climate Tests for All New Projects

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The great and challenging transition that all of us are playing a part of right now requires that we exchange old and ineffective decision making models with robust democratic processes underpinned by explicit, transparent criteria for assessing all new energy and major infrastructure projects.  But to date, Canada's environmental assessment laws are fundamentally broken, and where projects like Kinder Morgan are concerned, BC's environmental assessment process is functionally inexistent.  

That's partially due to changes to both federal and provincial environmental assessment law changes that took place throughout the Harper era.   But things are changing.  Justin Trudeau has openly acknowledged that the NEB has lost public confidence and vowed to fix our environmental assessments in his platform.  The province, on the other hand, was recently found to have acted unconstitutionally by failing to consult First Nations when it waived its right to conduct a provincial environmental assessment via a document called an "equivalency agreement", and BC is now mandated issue its own environmental certificates to Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan.  These developments mean we have an opportunity to make these processes better!

Our friends at West Coast Environmental Law have been leading the way to hold the government accountable for revamping our EA laws to include First Nations decision-making power, broad public participation and rigorous climate tests.  You can find out more about the amazing work they are doing here.

But its of utmost importance that when it comes to enacting a climate test, the public stays aware and engaged.  The government will be under great pressure to ensure that any new policies they enact don't act to compromise their relationship with the oil and gas lobby, and the fact is, meeting our Paris target means we'll have to leave fossils in the ground.  Faced with this difficult dilemma, the Liberals have already stated that they will not consider the "downstream" climate impacts of Kinder Morgan, meaning their interim climate test will consider less than 20% of the projects total emissions.

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If we're going to meet our Paris targets, and really commit to embracing a clean energy future, its essential that we demand rigorous climate tests that consider the full life cycle emissions of all projects, and draw a firm line against all proposals that would stand in the way of 1.5 degrees.  If you want to read more about ongoing climate test politics, here's a few links that will give you a broader picture.  

Pembina Institute: 4 Key questions for the government's new climate test 

Sierra Club: Blind Spot.  The Failure to consider climate in British Columbia's Environmental Assessments 

York University: Downstream Emissions in Canada's New Environmental Assessment "Climate Test"

 

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  • published this page in Solutions 2016-05-01 00:37:41 -0700

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