A Climate Change consultation was held on Wednesday, August 10th at the Blythwood Road Baptist Church. The 90 minute meeting included opening remarks by Robert Oliphant, M.P., to provide context, followed by comments about the topic by Gideon Forman, Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. The session concluded with comments and questions from the large audience.
A variety of viewpoints were presented by constituents about the current environmental situation with regards to greenhouse gas emissions. Some felt that the government should invest in green technology, with one constituent suggesting a geo-engineering approach to filter Greenhouse Gasses (GHG’s) in the stratosphere. Mr. Forman responded by stressing the importance of a balanced approach to tackling climate change, focusing on both mitigation and adaptation strategies. This reflected his concern that tech solutions can be both a distraction from mitigation efforts and unrealistic based on limited resources. A consensus seemed to be reached among constituents that more research needs to be conducted in the field, and that known emission reduction methods should be developed and employed by both citizens and corporations.
Many constituents voiced opposition to the current pipeline proposals in Alberta, viewing pipelines as a way to promote the development of the oil sands and thereby reinforcing the importance of fossil fuels in the economy. Many stated that government should instead shift focus towards renewable energy. Domestic food security and self-sufficiency was also a topic also discussed by constituents, many of whom viewed locally produced food to be more environmentally sustainable. While not a widely held opinion among attendees, at least one constituent advocated for the elimination of subsidies for factory farms. The subsequent decline in dairy and meat consumption could result in less emission of GHG’s and an increase in revenue for more sustainable agriculture.
The subject of carbon pricing initiatives was discussed. One constituent from the investment field described how businesses are prepared for a price on carbon, but are challenged by the uncertainty surrounding the specifics of these policies. Many constituents favoured the introduction of a price on carbon to curb emissions and generate revenue that could support climate change initiatives and green infrastructure. Constituents also brought up the importance of education in the fight against climate change. Many agreed that the lack of public interest in combating climate change stemmed not from a lack of awareness, but instead from a lack of education on its importance.
Attendees suggested mandatory courses in schools and universities on the subject of Climate Change. Others focused on the importance of establishing and disseminating the best practices including (but not limited to): the use of shared transportation services; investment in alternative power like nuclear, solar, and wind; and, grants or tax breaks for those implementing alternative heating and electricity generating methods in their homes. On the subject of wind energy and concerns from Canadian land owners about potential health impacts, Mr. Oliphant stated that a report commissioned by a former Minister of Health concluded that there are no known adverse impacts of wind energy on health. With regards to solar energy, Mr. Forman suggested the use of “solar co-ops” that would allow neighbours to share the cost of solar power infrastructure. Constituents expressed their hope that the needs of Indigenous communities would be considered when making all environmental policy decisions.
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