After one of the first worldwide, legally-binding climate change agreements was negotiated in Paris earlier in December, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen returned to Canada after serving as the NDP environment critic, accompanying the government and premiers in France.
And while Cullen was happy to see progress made on a worldwide deal that would see the rise in global temperatures held to 2 degrees C or lower, he was less enthusiastic about the lack of specifics in Canada’s response to the deal.
“Canada has been playing a much more positive role than the previous government. Certainly there’s still a bunch of things still on the table not yet worked out,” he said.
“As well as having a hard target from Canada, there was a commitment from keeping the world heating up 1.5 degrees, but there’s no goal associated to it and that’s going to be really important – seeing a plan with the Government of Canada. We’re doing that with the provinces.”
In northwest B.C., the MP sees a plethora of options and strategies that could help contribute to Canada’s carbon capping efforts, including environmentally-friendly industry jobs found anywhere from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
“We’re going to have to find huge cuts to our pollution. If you break that down, where all the opportunity is, is the green-energy projects that we have across the region. Finding new funding, having a price on carbon across the country and having a goal for the country – that makes investment more likely,” he said.
“To create those green jobs … it’s getting rid of the threat of things like Northern Gateway [oil pipeline project] and [implementing] the tanker ban and then on the other side, taking advantage of Canada having to meet some commitments. That’s made by creating those new sources of energy and moving the economy.”
At the Paris climate conference, Cullen was in complete opposition to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and B.C. Minister of the Environment Mary Polak and their alleged asking for the LNG industry to be exempt from any budget for carbon.
“That’s a non-starter. To pretend that carbon produced from an LNG terminal is different than carbon produced from a tailpipe or a big factory or a coal plant – it’s still carbon. Canada has made some commitments to halt the amount of carbon coming out of our country and if they’re going to exempt LNG, then B.C.’s going to have to make up for it in huge ways somewhere else and I don’t think B.C. has a clue as to how that’s going to work … The principle that the polluter pays applies to everybody. There aren’t special polluters and less special polluters,” he said.
In an interview with Black Press’ Tom Fletcher, Premier Clark mentioned that the Liberal Government of Canada is backing B.C.’s LNG enthusiasm.
“The new government in Ottawa is a big supporter of our LNG plan and part of the reason for that is that they also see it as a way forward for Canada to make a huge contribution to fighting global climate change,” she said.
“LNG will be a source of emissions for Canada, but overall it’s going to be a big favour to the world.”
In discussing the highly volatile supply and demand market for oil and natural gas leading to pricing changes, Premier Clark mentioned that natural gas continues to be an alternative that places like the industrious east coast of China look to.
“The concern about climate change is going to rebalance the market for natural gas. I guess the other positive sign is that nobody has accurately predicted any of these changes, negative or positive, in the past. I’m not sure if what’s happening today would even predict the future. But I do know that countries are going to be looking to natural gas as the primary solution to the climate change issues they’re trying to resolve,” she said.