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The Dangerous Game of Climate Roulette

On Thursday twenty daily temperature records were set across British Columbia (BC) as highs reached over 39oC in some areas of the province. Simultaneously and consequently 230 wildfires broke out and a state of emergency was declared as $100 million was made available to communities and residents affected by the fires to help them rebuild.

In the greater scheme of things, this local setback is small potatoes as witness the similar heat and wild fires in the U.S. Southwest but these calamities large and small are mounting to an environmental death by a thousand cuts.

In BC’s case, it is even more painful in that the damage is self-inflicted as the province strives to become a player in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market.  Existing plans will dramatically increase the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making its climate action goals impossible to meet and what’s more undermine Canada’s international climate change commitments, such as those are.

The following graphic by the Pembina Institute shows the forecasted change in emissions by 2030 for the four country’s largest emitters.

BC’s performance is projected to be worse even than the country’s oil capital, Alberta, and will be due, 80%, due to the LNG sector. The Pembina Institute calculation is based on the equivalent of just one LNG terminal getting up and running (roughly the size of the project in Kitimat, which would produce 24 megatonnes of carbon dioxide) while the Province’s LNG Strategy, released in 2012, shows that 20 LNG export facilities have been proposed.

Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  is to achieve an economy-wide target to reduce its GHG gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

In April of this year Environment Canada reported that all though the country’s overall emissions were slightly less that they were in 2014 – 727 megatonnes (Mt) to 722 Mt in 2015 – but nowhere close to meeting its 2030 climate target of 523 Mt.

According to Environment Canada’s 2016 GHG gas emissions reference case, GHG emissions are projected in the following graphic to be 742 Mt in 2030.

Understating the obvious, climatactiontracker.org rate Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) “inadequate.”

The global climate pledges, NDCs, forecast a global temperature rise of about 2.7oC but how meaningful is that when two of the two self-styled climate good guys, Canada and BC, have become what Bill McKibben suggests are disasters for the planet.

B.C. was once a climate leader but no more and the consequences are mounting, which is all the more infuriating when we are capable of facilitating an energy miracle.

What is needed today is a new Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller who will speak out for the planet.

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