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What is your vision for Alberta?

by Martha Kostuch

Of course we want continued prosperity. Of course we want safe, affordable housing, good health care and accessible education. But the foundation of our well-being is really a healthy environment – clean air, clean water, healthy food, among other things. I can’t help but wonder how much attention our leaders are paying to the foundation these days.

The centerpiece of my vision for Alberta is a stable, resilient, healthy economy based on energies of the future, not energies of the past. This means ending our addiction to fossil fuels and using some of the revenues they generate to develop and implement alternative energy sources and to support energy conservation. We can do this, but not without strong leadership and a willingness to reflect on whether our current path is taking us where we want to go.

Albertans alive now will, if the present course continues, see significant impacts on their lives as a result of climate change. We can’t predict exactly where and what, but scientists tell us the when is not far away. It’s a safe bet that many members of the present government will be dead before Alberta sees any significant greenhouse gas reductions as a result of their plan. Under Ed’s plan, children born on the date of the election – March 3, 2008 – will not see any reductions in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from Alberta until they are 14 years old. Despite the hype, it’s hard to tell the difference between this government’s climate change plan and the “no plan” approach of the previous government.

What I believe Albertans want to see is a government willing to take truly bold steps toward solving global problems like climate change and overconsumption. Here are some suggestions for the new premier:

  • No new oil sands developments should be approved until environmental limits have been established.
  • Alberta should invest in research and development of environmentally effective and economically efficient ways of storing renewable energy. The world is ready and waiting for this technology.
  • The Government of Alberta needs to provide a detailed public response to the report and recommendations of the Multi-stakeholder Committee on Oil Sands Development. Many Albertans participated in these consultations and they deserve a response.
  • The “polluter pay” principle should be paramount. We need more discussion about how the money raised should be spent, but at the very least, Alberta and Canadian taxpayers should not be subsidizing carbon capture and storage.

I also want to see other creatures – caribou, grizzly bears and bull trout among them – in Alberta’s future. But without much stronger measures to protect their habitat, they won’t be here. We need to truly protect our wilderness, native prairies, wetlands and rivers, not just for their beauty and recreational opportunities, but for their biological diversity and the fundamental human needs they help meet.

Albertans love a challenge and it’s certain we will face a few in the coming years as we lay a new path to a future that is free of boom and bust carbon cycles. It will take ingenuity, courage, and a little common sense on the part of Albertans and our leaders, but it will happen.

Posted February 29, 2008 by Anonymous

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