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Now Is the Time for Canada to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

06/08/2015 05:27 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
Greenpeace

Monday the G7 committed to eliminating the use of the fossil fuels by the end of the century. The commitment might have been stronger if it wasn't for the lobbying of Canada and Japan, who continue to be obstacles to progress on the climate.

There's no doubt about the fact that the commitment timelines need to be shorter but despite the potentially watered down language, the announcement is still a milestone that has wide spread implications for the world's energy systems and economies. For the first time, major world leaders have said jointly the age of fossil fuels has an end date.

Of course such announcements don't come easily and world politicians rarely make commitments on their own. This one is the result of the growing scientific consensus on the need to act, the increasing numbers of climate related disasters that show the dangers of waiting, and the millions of people globally pushing for change.

In Canada, the announcement should worry the oil and coal industry and be a wake-up call to provincial and municipal leaders. Continuing to build our economy around projects like the tar sands not only endangers our communities and the planet but it puts us far behind where the world is headed.

Rather than ending up with stranded assets, an unprepared workforce and poisoned communities, Canada and Alberta should be leading the transition, taking advantage of our tremendous solar and wind resources and supporting workers and communities in the process.

"To achieve these kinds of milestones over the decades to come will require serious technological transformation," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said while talking about the announcement. "We have simply got to find a way to create lower carbon-emitting sources of energy."

What Harper fails to realize is those low carbon emitting sources of energy are here. Solar, wind and geothermal are being implemented all over the world. They're being implemented by provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia, are on roof tops and fields across the country. What's missing is the federal leadership and in some cases -- cough Alberta -- the provincial leadership to speed the move.

Building more pipelines, refineries, coal plants, tar sands mines and in-situ operations is a waste of the resources and work power we need. We need to be transitioning out not digging our selves deeper in.

While Harper still doesn't seem to get the message, let's work to ensure Alberta's new Premier Rachel Notley does.

Alberta, blessed with bountiful solar and wind resources, has a chance to make the just transition we need and to take the country with it.

With the G7 announcement, the new premier should look past short-sighted gains and see where the world is headed and craft a plan for Alberta to get ahead of the curve.

What an amazing transition it would be for the tar sands province to become the province of the sun.

Now that's an Alberta I can get behind.

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