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A Better, Greener Alberta is Possible: Lets Work to Make It Real

05/29/2015 12:11 EDT | Updated 05/29/2016 05:59 EDT
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On Sunday I stood with thousands of other Albertans at the Alberta legislature building, the place of so many protests and rallies, to welcome our new government.

I cheered as the new cabinet was introduced. We now have a former teacher as the new Minister of Education. An outspoken, hard-working feminist was named to the newly created post responsible for the Status of Women. And Alberta now has the only cabinet in Canada (and only the second in Canadian history) with equal numbers of men and women.

It was truly an historic day - the end of a 44-year Conservative dynasty and the beginning of a new chapter in Alberta.

Premier Notley's speech was inspiring. She laid out a solid vision for the province, tempered industry fears, and re-instilled that this government was for everyone. It was pretty amazing but it left one really important thing out: the climate.

In Premier Rachel Notley's speech she didn't talk about the growing climate crisis or the need to act to address it.

Perhaps it was an oversight. Perhaps there was just too much to include in a short speech. Perhaps her climate speech is yet to come. I don't know.

What I do know is that we all need to do our part to act on the growing climate crisis and since Alberta creates more carbon pollution than Ontario and Quebec combined, the province has a long way to go to do its fair share.

I hope the new government is up to the challenge. I hope it realizes climate action can't wait for the next election cycle, and shouldn't be governed by political posturing or industry threats. Instead it is a historical moment that Alberta must rise and meet.

Alberta has all the tools it needs to make the transition. Now we just need the political leadership to help speed it along.

The science on climate change couldn't be clearer. The drought in California, wildfires in northern Alberta and rising sea levels around the world are all warning signs of much greater problems to come. Every corner of the world demands action to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and transition to greener, more sustainable forms of energy production and transport.

In Canada, Alberta is the worst polluter, mostly due to the rapidly increasing emissions coming from the tar sands. It's a problem Premier Notley needs to address and the climate can't wait long for her to do it. Scientists in the journal Nature have prescribed the solution - 85% of tar sands need to remain in the ground in order for Canada to do its part to stabilize the climate. I hope the premier was listening.

On the other side of the equation, a group of scientists also helped outline the solution. In a recent report they showed how Canada can go 100% renewable by 2035. In 2009, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Alberta Federation of Labour published a green jobs report showing the job benefits of such a green transition.

The math on renewables isn't too hard - they create 6-8 times the number of jobs as the same investment in oil and gas. With Alberta being the sunniest and one of the windiest provinces in the country, Alberta has a lot of potential to harness and a lot of benefits it could be reaping.

We look forward to working with the Notley government to ensure Alberta seizes the opportunity. Together we can create tens of thousands of good green jobs. WE can turn rooftops and parking lots into solar power producers. And we can do it all with justice - protecting workers and putting those most-impacted first.

A better, greener Alberta is possible - let's work to make it real.

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