Brad Wall risking being left behind

This week Premier Brad Wall has embarked on a tour out east to promote the Energy East pipeline, a project which demonstrates his dangerously poor understanding of climate change and of 21st century economics. A new report this month from the CCPA definitively shows that Canada cannot meet its emissions reductions obligations if it builds new pipelines, and also highlights the erosion of the economic argument for new pipelines – low prices are unlikely to recover soon, and bitumen will always be the costliest product in an inundated oil market. This latest report adds to a wealth of evidence warning against the project, joining a mountain of opposition that continues to grow. This week the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador announced their opposition to Energy East, adding to already strong Indigenous resistance to new pipelines. All this comes on the heels of the Premier warning oil executives that the industry is facing an “existential threat” and losing the “PR battle” to activists across the country; it is surely no coincidence that the fossil fuel industry is losing the scientific and moral battles in the fight to address climate change. The facts are clear – there is no economic and surely no environmental basis for the Energy East project, making it one the country would surely come to regret if it’s not ultimately rejected.

Wall also got himself into hot water this week as he attempted to mock the Leap Manifesto on Twitter. Wall posted a video of himself scoffing at the more than $1.5 trillion in capital costs required for a transition to 100% renewable energy but, as it turns out, badly misrepresented research in the process. Naomi Klein called him out, and Mark Jacobson, Stanford professor and author of a widely-cited study offering a map for Canada to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, highlighted the error of Wall’s ways. Jacobson pointed out that the projected savings in health and climate-related costs of more than $10 trillion clearly dwarf the upfront capital costs, and explained that those capital costs are meant to be spread out over more than 3 decades anyway. Further, Jacobson has estimated that such a transition will be a net creator of 130,000 jobs in Canada, so delaying in the name of employment makes little sense. The exchange can be seen here.

Jacobson’s work isn’t Saskatchewan specific and many of the specifics still require more work. But, Brad Wall’s oversimplifications and misrepresentations are holding this province back from having the necessary and nuanced discussion it deserves. Saskatchewan needs more research to gain a better understanding of specifics in the provincial context so that we can plan with clarity and intention. Because one thing is certain: climate change and 21st century economics dictate that we must transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels. Fortunately, Saskatchewan has a lot to gain in such a transition, including in the jobs department. Although a new report shows that Saskatchewan is lagging behind the rest of the country in renewable energy investment, that certainly leaves a lot of potential to tap into.

Speaking of jobs and the transition, Iron & Earth will be in Saskatoon on Sunday to discuss the Workers’ Climate Plan, a new initiative they launched this month in an effort to offer industry workers a platform to advocate for strong climate action that protects Canadian workers. Come and find out more at 7pm at The Stand Community Organizing Centre!

The Stand is hosting two other great events next week – Delivering Community Power on Monday at 7pm, and the Climate Solutions Books Club, breaking down Gordon Laxer’s After the Sands, Wednesday at 7pm.