01/25/2016 05:40 EST | Updated 01/25/2017 05:12 EST

How Notley And Wynne Can Change Canada's Energy Future


Last week, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC) came out and stated its unanimous opposition to the Energy East tarsands pipeline. The MMC's denial was on behalf of 82 municipalities, including Montreal, Laval, Longueuil, and 79 others. These municipalities represent 3.9 million people, which is almost half the population of Quebec

Following the announcement the new Alberta government went into damage control. Premier Notley flew to Ontario to meet with Premier Wynne so both Premiers could stand together and trumpet the project. While the Premiers attacked the municipal leaders for being short sighted the real shortsightedness was their own.

Energy East is an export pipeline. If built it will enable 30-32 million tonnes of GHG's to be emitted into the atmosphere every single year. That's an additional 32 million tonnes of emissions per year at a time when the global scientific community has clearly stated that drastic reductions are what is needed. That is far from climate leadership and doesn't have much long term vision.

In addition to sending Canada in the wrong direction on climate it will also make it impossible for Canada to meet the pledge it made just a month ago in Paris to do its part to stabilize global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 1.5 degrees C is not just a level that means survival for millions of people all over the planet, but its also the best chance we have to reverse the growing climate crisis before it spins out of control.

Stabilizing temperatures at 2 degrees C required over 75% of all remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground. A safer target of 1.5 degrees C means what needs to remain in the ground gets even bigger. A panel of IPCC scientists in Paris said for industrialized nations the 1.5 degrees C target means emissions need to drop to zero by 2030 or 2040 at the latest.

That climate reality leaves no place for tarsands pipelines.

While the job losses Alberta and other jurisdictions are feeling are devastating, the answer isn't in worsening a problem, doubling down on disaster, and building a pipeline to ship a project the world is and needs to move away from.

Rather then talking about increasing the damage for short-term gain, Premier Wynne and Notley should be talking about how they can create jobs by collaborating on solutions. Solutions that keep carbon in the ground, create jobs, and that could benefit everyone from coast to coast to coast for generations to come.

In the United States, the solar energy industry grew 12 times faster then the rest of the US economy. In fact there are now more solar workers in the United States then coal workers. Solar also now beats oil and gas extraction workers and is closing on the sector overall.

These are the types of numbers Canada should be boasting about. Canada needs a national clean energy strategy.

Let's ensure when the Prime Minister meets with the Premiers the discussion isn't about pipelines but it's about the long term safety and prosperity of the country through a 100% renewable shift. Let's make the discussion about creating good green jobs, healthy communities, and clean, renewable solutions that allow everyone to participate and benefit. That would be true long-term thinking.

It's time for Canada to build its clean energy dream not expand its tarsands nightmare.