So it's official... in 85 years we will live in a fossil fuel-free world.
Awesome. It will be a wonderful day and I hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoy it, along with whatever shape the world is in by that point.
Surprisingly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper contorted himself enough this week to agree with his G7 BFFs to a plan of decarbonization by 2100.
In what is being lauded as a "groundbreaking" achievement (ironic word choice), deep carbon emissions cuts will be made by 2050, with the eventual ending of fossil fuel use altogether 50 years later.
Harper did his best for the energy sector status quo, with Canada and Japan blocking a stronger statement on greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to the Canadian Press, which saw a draft of the G7 communiqué on the topic.
One source who spoke anonymously to the CBC said: "The two of those countries have been the most difficult on every issue on climate."
Harper put on a brave face at a press conference in Germany, knowing that unless he can add a magic spell into an omnibus bill that ensures his immortality, he is unlikely to reach his 141st birthday in 2100. He won't see that frightening fossil-free world for himself, or have to answer to his business brethren or "base."
"Nobody's going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights," Harper told the press conference on June 8.
"We've simply got to find a way to create lower-carbon emitting sources of energy — and that work is ongoing."
Where is that work ongoing? Will the Canadian economy benefit? Is it getting the same kind of investment and subsidization that, say, the oil and gas sector is getting from Ottawa? Inquiring minds want to know.
In comparison to the 85-year goal, cbc.ca made a nice list of momentous human achievements and supplied their timeframes from decision to fruition. They include putting a man on the moon (12 years), the Panama Canal (11 years), harnessing nuclear energy as power (20 years) and smallpox eradication (14 years).
And as a Canadian touch, building the Trans-Canada railroad took just 18 years.
The end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable. There are finite combustible carbon resources in this world, and the amount of oil and gas underground shrinks every day.
So the law of diminishing returns is one thing.
And I have always been concerned about the pollutants found in burning oil. Why keep oil and gas at all costs? Because of jobs and the economy? OK, fair enough at one time... but it was literally a toxic relationship, there are alternatives, and it's time to move on.
Progressive carbon-reduced or even carbon-free technology is available now and is improving, innovating quickly and becoming cheaper. Other sources for energy can now bear the load for the world economy currently covered by oil and gas and other carbon fuels.
Making the shift over time is necessary, recognizing that the world doesn't just stop and change overnight. It has already begun.
But setting the deadline at 85 years? Please. Those countries, companies and individuals who get on this new road earlier will benefit faster both economically and in terms of their environment.
Then there's this....
In February this year, a Globe and Mail story said an RCMP intelligence assessment warned that groups bent on blocking oil/tar sands expansion and pipeline building could lead to violent extremism and should be dealt with harshly and punitively.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) had already launched a court challenge to the RCMP over alleged surveillance of groups opposed to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
"These kind of cases involving environmental groups — or anti-petroleum groups as the RCMP likes to frame them — are really the sharp end of the stick in terms of Bill C-51," said Paul Champ, a civil liberties lawyer who handled the BCCLA complaints.
"With respect to Bill C-51, I and other groups have real concerns it is going to target not just terrorists who are involved in criminal activity, but people who are protesting against different Canadian government policies."
Here is a thought. As of Monday this week, it looks like we are all officially headed in the same direction on the issue of fossil fuels. Now that the PM has publicly stated the call for a low-carbon footprint will "require a transformation in our energy sectors" (his words), does that mean that he will be considered a potential terrorist like so many or our climate change activists seem to be?
Has Harper broken the statutes being brought in by Bill C-51, which also passed into law this week? Will MP and junkyard dog Pierre Poilievre Tweet something about his boss like he has about others? Yeah, I know the answer to that one.
Harper hasn't turned into a climate activist. Of course he hasn't. But any climate change protestor being prosecuted under Bill C-51 in the future for simply going to a demonstration might want to bring up the idea in court. It's worth exploring.
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