Standing Committee on Legislative Affaire
Re: Bill 16 - The Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act
October 24th, 2018
At the end of October, Bill 16 - The Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act - was tabled in the Manitoba legislature. This bill comes at a critical moment, on the tails of the release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on what 1.5C of warming means. This report calls for unprecedented action to prevent catastrophic environmental breakdown, and should be considered a wake up call for all governments and businesses across the globe.
As members of the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, we believe that the urgency of the IPCC report cannot be understated. The report necessitates that we create climate plans that allow for socially and environmentally just energy usage and production, to give us a shot at avoiding irreversible climate catastrophe.
We believe that the province’s “Made in Manitoba” climate plan brought into legislation in Bill 16 does not go far enough. We need a plan that supports putting a price on carbon pollution. We need to see swift and significant action on emissions reduction. We need to see more investment in solutions and a transition away from fossil fuels. And we need our elected leaders to help the people of Manitoba embrace this change. Here in Manitoba we have a great responsibility to be part of this transition, but actions to date have not been strong enough. With this Bill comes opportunity to correct our course.
A critical first step is to make the biggest carbon polluters pay. Putting a price on carbon is the most effect economic deterrent for big polluters, as well as everyday consumers, to curb consumption and its associated emissions. There is widespread consensus that a carbon tax works - from Nobel prize winning economist Paul Romer to Mark Cameron, ex-policy director to Stephen Harper. This issue is not about partisan politics, or ideology - it just makes good financial and environmental sense. We need our elected leaders to help bring reluctant Manitobans who see this opportunity as ‘just another tax’ on side.
But a carbon tax alone falls far short of the ambitious action we need. We must use revenues generated through a carbon tax to incentivise alternative energy development, support waste diversion efforts to composting, invest in public and active transportation, and create jobs in the environmental sector. We must increase energy efficiency by implementing policy to support building retrofits. A carbon tax should not be revenue neutral - it should use revenues generated to support the transition to a more socially and environmentally just economy, including retraining workers for employment in a cleaner economy and supporting those impacted most by climate change adapt to its already existing effects through emergency response and other critical services. The more we spend now on solutions, the less we will have to spend addressing increasingly severe problems arising from climate change.
We need to think beyond just this plan. We need to have climate change at the front of our minds in all areas of policy, because it affects every aspect of our society, from housing to infrastructure, health care to transportation. We must do more to lessen the negative impact climate change will have on these already pressing issues.
We must question why our political leaders are using our hydropower production as an excuse to limit further action on climate change. Yes, we do not burn fossil fuels for the bulk of our electricity, but as we know, hydropower has its own costs: from destruction and flooding of land to the loss of Indigenous culture and ways of life. There is a big opportunity for Manitoba Hydro to be a true leader in environmental stewardship. The people living in the North have great ideas on how to strengthen eroding shorelines to stand up to flooding, reducing the production of methane that results from plant material decomposing in flood waters. By investing in shoreline care, we can reduce our emissions while creating sustainable jobs in the North.
We work at the grassroots level and everyday we hear from people of all political persuasions who are hungry for solutions. They want to stop the flow of oil and say no to pipelines. They want greener forms of transportation, they want to see better public transit, they want incentives for electric vehicles, they want the infrastructure for these electric vehicles, they want to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and work spaces, they want alternative forms of energy. We need to be inspired to believe in a better world. We can do this!
It is time that we embrace the reality of climate change, not just intellectually, but in our hearts. Catastrophic climate change is imminent because of our failure to take action to curb it. How do we want history to remember us? The whole world is watching, and with this plan, we are disappointing them, and those generations to come that will look back on this moment and wonder why we didn’t do all that we could to turn this ship around.
We all know that change is hard. Really hard. But it is the right and necessary thing to do. According to the IPCC report, we have 12 years to correct our course. That is not a lot of time. We call on our leaders to show us the best that humanity has to offer by doing the right thing. For our economy. For the planet. And for our future.