Speech enthrones fossil economy

Sierra Club Canada responds to Harper’s Speech from the Throne:

November 19, 2008 – Today’s speech from the Throne failed to move Canada toward a green energy economy, instead propping up obsolete and expensive options such as nuclear energy and northern pipelines.

“We are at a historic moment here, where there is an opportunity to leave behind our old fossil economy and move on to something better. Instead, Canada risks being left behind in the global green economy,” said Stephen Hazell, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “The incoming US administration has committed $15 billion per year to spur the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. A sustainable economy can’t exist without a sustainable environment. How does Canada plan to compete in the new green economy?”

The Speech from the Throne repeated the government’s discredited 2007 climate change plan, at a time when governments like Australia and the United States are pledging new cooperation to address the climate crisis. For example Canada is pledging to establish a North America-wide cap and trade system, without having changed its substandard emissions targets or fulfilling its commitments to Kyoto.

“We are dismayed that the Harper government has signalled that it will weaken environmental regulations for northern pipelines and nuclear projects,” said Jean Langlois, National Campaigns Director.  

The government tried to mislead Canadians today by using the term “non-emitting” to refer to old, polluting, dangerous, and expensive forms of energy.

“We have known for years that nuclear power is not the answer to climate change,” said Mike Buckthought, National Climate Change Campaigner. “We could achieve much larger reductions if we invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind and solar.”

While the speech mentioned protecting Canadians and upholding democracy, this government already has a record for weakening environmental regulations, particularly with respect to water, allowing mining companies to dump toxic waste in lakes.

“We applaud the government’s commitment to ban bulk water transfers and exports from freshwater basins,” said Celeste Côté, National Water Campaigner. “However, bulk water is only one of a number of important issues that should have been addressed in the national water strategy the government promised us in last year’s throne speech.”

“Every crisis presents an opportunity,” Hazell concluded. “Taking steps toward a sustainable environment secures a sustainable economy, which would avoid economic crises like this in the future.”

– 30 –

For more information contact:
Jean Langlois, National Campaigns Director, Sierra Club Canada, 613-241-4611 x230, 613-266-5326 (cell)
Stephen Hazell, Executive Director 613-241-4611 ext. 238 or 613-724-1908 (cell)
Mike Buckthought, National Climate Change Campaigner, 613-241-4611 ext. 235
Celeste Côté, National Water Campaigner, Sierra Club Canada, 613-241-4611 x. 233, 613-240-3838 (cell)



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