The beginning of the year is a good time for planning, setting goals. And with 2014 shaping up to be an important year for environmentally minded Canadians, here, briefly, are our top 3 resolutions for the coming year.
- Hold the Wall. At the end of 2013 the National Energy Board ignored widespread opposition by First Nations and British Columbians, and gave a thumbs up to Enbridge’s plans for tar sands pipelines across Northern BC to a tanker terminal in Kitimat. But this story is far from over: the risky project must still surmount First Nations legal challenges and opposition from the government and citizens of BC. West Coast Environmental Law Association has signed the Save the Fraser Solidarity Accord pledging to stand with First Nations against the Enbridge pipelines and tankers project. So our first resolution is to “hold the wall” against Enbridge. If you haven’t done so already, please consider signing the pledge.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about climate change. Climate change is here, now. It is not something in the future. And yet when extreme weather events hit, there has been a reluctance to link them to climate change, for fear of appearing opportunistic or insensitive to the plight of the victims of floods or storms. But we’re doing no one any service by hiding the impacts of climate change. When it comes to weather events, 100% certainty of the causes is not possible (it could have been that pesky butterfly), just as it’s not possible to state with 100% certainty that an athlete on steroids won a particular sporting event due to the steroids. But when Ontario Hydro was expecting this type of ice storm to occur more frequently due to climate change, it is reasonable for us to make the link too. And, equally importantly, to ask whether the costs of these storms, and of adapting to future storms, should be paid by the victims of the storms, by taxpayers or by the fossil fuel companies and other greenhouse gas polluters. So our second resolution is to talk about how climate change is already hurting Canadians and people around the world, and to press for laws that will finally bring GHG emissions under control.
- Demand strong legal protection for the environment. Polls show that Canadians want strong protection for the environment, but too often governments feel that weakening environmental laws is good business (it isn’t – many of the credibility problems being experienced by Canada’s oil and gas industry can be linked to weak environmental laws). 2013 saw a gutting of legal protection for fish and fish habitat. This gutting of Canada’s environmental laws is occurring despite international commitments to maintain such legal protections, and at a cost to Canada’s international reputation. Politicians at all levels of government need to hear loud and clear that Canadians want strong environmental laws and will vote for parties that protect those laws. Our third resolution is to write or talk to your local MP, MLA and local government representatives about the need for strong environmental laws.
And, if you’re looking for a fourth resolution, may we recommend that you support West Coast Environmental Law – so that we can continue to use the law to protect British Columbia’s environment.
By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer