We must be doing some things right on our little blue planet, because we’ve managed to successfully orbit our way around to another Earth Day (April 22).
There’s a lot to think about when we think about Earth Day, and there are things we can do, great and small.
Top of mind this year is the May 9 provincial election and environmental issues should matter to all political parties, because voters care. Combatting a global problem like climate change requires efforts from all levels of government, and British Columbia’s next government will have a say on countless environmental files. Some fall directly under the B.C. ministry of environment’s mandate; many more overlap with other provincial ministries.
When we talk about climate change, emissions targets are some tangible goals, and each party has its own notions about what’s realistic and what’s the right balance. And beyond those stated emissions targets will come action – through regulation, taxation and other means, the government will have some oversight of resource industries. Policies on fossil fuel extraction and development of renewables, for example, will be indicators of whether the government is serious about meeting its emissions targets.
A positive of an election campaign is that parties will tend to say the right things about their environmental intentions. The B.C. Liberals can laud their carbon tax, which is a model other provinces might do well to emulate. The B.C. NDP would increase the carbon tax, and has a comprehensive Power B.C. plan that would see energy-efficient retrofits at public buildings. The B.C. Green Party would increase and expand the carbon tax and adopt more ambitious targets on greenhouse gas reductions.
An election campaign is a chance for British Columbians to talk about a lot of the issues that are important to us, with the knowledge that politicians have to listen right now.
On Earth Day, let’s keep in mind that Earth doesn’t have its own MLA or premier. But we can elect politicians who will advocate for our environment and care about our planet.