This week and in previous weeks, we have had stories on major green infrastructure announcements, courtesy of the federal government.
First there was the pledge to build 72 electric vehicle charging stations across the NWT — though exactly where remains to be told — and now a second announcement to both construct a net-zero community centre in Fort McPherson and retrofit the Midnight Sun Complex to harness the power of said midnight sun.
These are fantastic developments that are years overdue, and the next funding announcement can’t be made soon enough, because science seems to be telling us we’re running on borrowed time.
Recent studies have suggested parts of the Arctic are warming seven times faster than the global average. There’s less data available for the Antarctic, but we know it’s not getting any colder down there either. Once-in-a-century forest fires are happening nearly annually. Flooding from melting glaciers is cutting off supply lines, and droughts are starting to eat away at civilization’s bread baskets. The climate crisis that millennials like myself were warned about our entire lives is here.
Critics of green infrastructure spending will point out these programs are like using a meat cleaver when you need a scalpel. But as just mentioned, the writing has been on the wall for a very long time and the reason we’re so late to the green transition is because, as a nation, we’ve spent much of the last few decades saying our industries need time to adapt, while many of those industries did not. Ironically, other oil-exporting nations, such as Scotland, have managed to move their entire electrical grid to renewables while still exporting oil in the same amount of time. The idea we had an either/or choice was and is completely false.
It’s hard to feel sympathetic for businesses that have been aware of climate change for over three decades and have received endless favours from successive federal governments, yet claim they aren’t ready for the energy transition. I’ll single out the fossil fuel industry, which has had the benefit of Stephen Harper pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol on its behalf — since then our “green” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bought into an oil pipeline project that is now costing taxpayers in excess of $20 billion — all to help out our oil industry. Accusations by those in the oil sector that the rest of Canada is somehow against them are demonstrably inaccurate.
It’s not the rest of Canada’s fault oil executives made the decisions they made. They’ve received a lot more financial support than most Canadian industries.
So I welcome these green initiatives and hope we get many more as soon as possible. Among other things, the federal and territorial governments need to figure out a way to solarize the entire Beaufort and Mackenzie Delta grids without putting Northwest Territorials Power Corporation employees out of work. At this point, there is no reason why we should be burning a drop of diesel in the summer. Projects like the Inuvik Wind Farm also need to increase in frequency — Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson should be able to take advantage of their natural resources as well.
Voters have made it clear they want Canada to be a leader in the energy transition. Keep the cash flowing.