Better future promised for Albertans; Climate initiative is overdue

Written by Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West.

First published in Calgary Herald on June 4, 2016.

As the world confronts the challenge of a warming planet, we face a fundamental choice, one that will have profound consequences well into the future.

We can deny that climate change poses a threat to the planet and do nothing. Or we can take action to reduce our emissions and lead in the transition to a low-carbon future.

In Alberta, we choose to lead. Last fall, Premier Rachel Notley stood with industry, environmental, indigenous and community leaders to announce Alberta‘s Climate Leadership Plan.

As the premier said at the time, “This is the day we stop denying there is an issue. This is the day we do our part. Our goal is to become one of the world’s most progressive and forward-looking energy producers.”

The Climate Leadership Plan is the most significant step taken by any government in Canada to tackle climate change.

By phasing out coal-fired electricity, the air our kids breathe will be cleaner.

By investing in green infrastructure like public transit, we will have more time to spend with our families, not stuck in traffic.

By putting a price on carbon, every Albertan will have an incentive to reduce emissions. And the majority of Albertans will get a full cash rebate to protect the family budget. And by investing in clean energy technologies, we will diversify our industry and create jobs and opportunities for a new generation of Albertans.

Sadly, the conversation about climate change is often stuck in the past. Some say that climate change is not real and that we should do nothing. Just last week, a Wildrose MLA promoted a story on social media that called climate change a “hoax.” Another Wildrose MLA posted information from an organization that blames climate change on the sun.

Albertans know we can do better. For generations, we have been world energy leaders contributing mightily to the economic well-being of every Canadian.

It’s an all-too-familiar pattern. The opposition grudgingly agrees that climate change is real when the cameras are rolling, but behind the scenes, they are actively fighting science, promoting the extreme views of conspiracy theorists and climate change deniers.

Wildrose MLAs can fight the science all they want, but their own record proves that climate change denial is a dead end for Alberta. After all, past conservative governments took us down that road of denial and it got us nowhere. We were vilified internationally. Our energy products remained landlocked. And more dangerous pollution was pumped into our air.

Albertans know we can do better. For generations, we have been world energy leaders contributing mightily to the economic well-being of every Canadian.

With the Climate Leadership Plan, we are out front again, investing in clean energy like renewables, advancing new technologies, reducing our emissions and improving our environmental performance.

As former Progressive Conservative finance minister Jim Dinning wrote recently, Alberta‘s “new policy moves Canada’s highest-emissions province toward the head of the pack with a stringent, cost-effective and sensible climate policy …. (it) shows the world that being an emissions-intensive economy does not stand in the way of having a smart carbon policy.”

Tomorrow’s global economic leaders are those who understand that a strong and growing economy goes hand in hand with a clean environment.

And today, at long last, Alberta is stepping up, showing the world that there is hope for a better future, that we can tackle climate change and reduce our emissions, while securing our economy and our quality of life.

That’s the promise of the Climate Leadership Plan - the promise of a more prosperous and healthier future for every family in Alberta.