A grand new idea is emerging around the world to combat climate catastrophe. A hopeful idea, a way to respond to the clear and present existential threat of our time. My generation’s defining moment. Students and activists and politicians and economists around the world have proposed a vision of a Green New Deal.
New Brunswick cannot be left behind. We need our own.
For some living in Fredericton, or on Grand Lake, or in Maugerville, or Gagetown, or the Saint John Valley, Spring 2019 was a catastrophe. Flooded homes. Closed highways. Communities cut off. It is going to get worse. The science is clear.
We are already witnessing what climate catastrophe and crisis looks like around the world, and right home here in New Brunswick. David Wallace-Wells writes in The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming that “it is worse, much worse, than you think.”
Yet we do little in this province.
Yet we do little in this province. There is no Spring at the end of the climate crisis; no back to normal.
It was wet this Spring, and it’s going to get wetter. Summers drier. Storms far worse. Ticks and disease. We are not prepared, and sandbags and soldiers will not be enough.
How long will Fredericton last as the river keeps rising, every spring? What does two feet more do? Three feet? What does Saint John look like as the highest tides in the world get far higher? Do we have to wait for fires like in BC and Alberta to rip through or towns and villages?
We need to respond because it is already a climate emergency.
Yet our business leaders who are now our politicians continue business as usual in the face of an impending crisis. Business as usual is profitable, for some. But the climate catastrophe it’s causing will be devastating for all of us.
And yet, some organize against a carbon tax. The carbon tax is bad, not because it goes too far, but because it doesn’t go far enough. We don’t need to just tax carbon, we need to transform our way of life and our economies.
Our children are organizing Friday’s climate strikes and a campaign against an ecocide of the very ecosystems we rely on to live, to eat, to work, and to play. They don’t care about gas prices, they do care about where they’re going to live in twelve years when they’re graduating high school’s and universities and looking for a job. Twelve years is how long the IPCC tells us we have to avoid total catastrophe, and limit warming to 1.5°C. And, those jobs are not going to be in pumping oil in Alberta, because if they are we are doomed as a planet.
If perhaps our planetary survival depends on a global movement, we also need own provincial vision. Our kids need it. The need to act globally doesn’t preclude the need to act locally.
In New Brunswick, our emissions per capita are 20.0 tonnes CO2: 3% above the Canadian average of 19.4 tonnes per capita.
We need a provincial Green New Deal. A plan to tax corporations, and to invest in a transition to renewable energy and clean industry and away from dirty oil refining and industrial scale clear cutting. Such a Green New Deal requires a just transition. One that transforms our infrastructure, reimagines our cities, rethinks our transportation, reshapes the province’s economy, empowers our communities, and embraces renewable energy sources.
It’s about electricity. Some of this will be embracing of renewable energy–solar panels, or windmills, or hydropower. Some of it will also be thinking efficiency.
It’s economic. New Brunswick is one a Canada‘s poorest provinces. We need to rethink our economy which relies on natural resource extraction.
None of it can be business as usual, it cannot be 20th century dirty carbon capitalism.
Our children demand it, and before the flood waters rise again, we should too.
On May 8th Megan Mitton, the Green Party MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, tabled a motion to declare a climate emergency in NB. Bravo to the Greens.
Will the legislature act?
The children and teenagers and young people organizing the Friday Climate Strike on the legislature demand action.
Declaring a climate emergency would is the first step. The second, imagining what a Green New Deal in New Brunswick will look like by 2030.
Daniel Tubb is an environmental anthropologist at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.