Letter: We cannot afford to wait any longer on climate change

Dear Editor: 

Our MP Carol Hughes addressed climate change in her House Call column (“It’s time to get down to work on the nuts and bolts of addressing climate change,” Jan. 31). She could have added that critical decisions are being taken right now on whether to increase, not decrease, greenhouse gases. Teck Frontier has proposed a huge new tar sands operation which, if Ottawa approves, will massively increase greenhouse gases.

Teck Frontier’s proposed tar sands mine would cover 240 square kilometres, producing 260,000 barrels of oil per day for 40 years, and four million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, perhaps more like six million tonnes. That doesn’t even include emissions from the end use, some 50 million tonnes per year.

The federal Liberal cabinet is supposed to announce a decision this month. But we can’t tackle the global heating crisis by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, it flies in the face of common sense.

Meanwhile, the cost of climate-related catastrophic damage is mounting. As NDP MP Peter Julian told reporters recently, estimates at the Finance Committee hearings put the costs of insured and uninsured catastrophic climate damages at $5 billion this year, plus $5 billion in economic costs. That’s because of greenhouse gases we’ve already put into the atmosphere.

There is no time to waste. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advises that we must reduce greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. If we don’t, we risk runaway global warming. One worrying example is when permafrost melts and releases methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and that causes more permafrost to melt. Permafrost has already begun melting.

Does the Liberal government want to appease Albertans like Premier Kenney and approve anything, even at the cost of runaway global warming? Teck Frontier would be the final blow, negating all our efforts to address the climate crisis. It’s gut-wrenching.

Jan McQuay