From Paris to Fredericton- This is how we build a green economy
I was walking along Canterbury St. the other day and noticed someone had a solar air heater installed on the end of their home. It’s a low tech method of harnessing the sun’s energy to heat the adjoining room. Following the historic agreement forged by the world’s nations at COP 21 in Paris last month to keep our atmosphere from overheating, we will see a lot more people and businesses going solar.
World leaders have committed to keep the Earth’s average temperature from increasing by 2 degrees C, and ideally by no more than 1.5 degrees C. On average we have already seen a 0.8 degree C increase, though in Canada’s Arctic, it has already warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius.
The Green Jobs Act I introduced in December, if passed, would put in place actions and incentives to ensure New Brunswickers are able do our part to implement the Paris Agreement. The bill is designed to create the conditions for growth in green building renovations and construction, renewable energy and transportation sectors that will both create jobs and shrink our carbon footprint. My inspiration for this legislation came from the success of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s efforts to create green jobs. His Green Jobs Act and Green Communities Act of a decade ago have driven the creation of a thriving clean energy sector in that state while reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. My bill will be up for debate at Second Reading on March 3rd.
My Green Jobs bill would create Renew New Brunswick out of the ashes of Efficiency New Brunswick, which the current government dismantled. Renew New Brunswick would have clear targets to shift New Brunswick’s energy use away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, and would provide incentives to do so. It would also require NB Power to fully exploit the province’s energy efficiency potential as long as this is less expensive than obtaining new supplies of electricity.
If you would like to know more about my Green Jobs bill, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office (506-457-6842) to speak to me or my staff directly. If you want to support my bill, please e-mail, tweet, write or phone the Premier to ask that he support the Green Jobs Act. You can reach him at Brian.email@example.com, @BrianGallantNB, (506) 453-2144, or Office of the Premier, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1.
Provincial and municipal governments have the majority of the tools to implement the Paris Agreement, which is why my bill could make such a positive contribution. While nations signed the Paris agreement, it will be their regional and local governments that will take most of the action. Prime Minister Trudeau will be meeting with the Premiers in the first part of March to discuss what strategies we collectively will take to shrink our carbon footprint.
I had the privilege of joining the Canadian delegation at COP 21 as part of the New Brunswick contingent. COP 11, which I attended in Montreal a decade ago, was all about process. COP 21 was about action.
It struck me how matter-of-fact national representatives from all over the world were talking about the need to get off fossil fuels. What happened in Paris last month was truly a turning point in our history. And what a moment in time it was. Just two weeks after the terrible attacks of November 13 in Paris, the world descended on the city in the tens of thousands with a common purpose and the determination to reach an agreement to avoid the worst consequences of the growing upheaval in our climate and oceans. It signalled the end of the fossil fuel era and the need to keep the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Pipelines and fracking are over, renewables and green energy are here.
I have already spoken to classes at FHS, George Street Middle School, and St. Thomas University about my participation in COP 21 and the implications of the Paris Agreement for us.
The Legislative Assembly resumes February 2nd, as does my weekly participation on Terry Seguin’s political panels. These can be viewed at www.cbc.ca/nb. As always, if there is something I may be able to help you with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or arrange a meeting.