Monday, November 30, 2009

An open letter to Stephen Harper and Ed Stelmach

The Rt. Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

SJ: Endorse Bill C-311 and Bigras motion at Copenhagen climate summit

Dear Prime Minister Harper,
I firmly support your decision to travel to Copenhagen for the UN Climate summit. Thank you for taking this important step. Furthermore, I believe this Copenhagen summit is one of the most important international meetings in our lifetime. While you participate in this event, please act for the well-being of future generations and work to achieve meaningful reductions in green house gas emissions as detailed in Bill C-311 and the Nov. 24 Opposition Day motion put forward by Mr. Bigras of the BQ.

Our economy is often the excuse for not taking action on climate change. The recent TD bank report (TD Economics Special Report Oct. 29, 2009) indicates that this is simply not the case. If Canada were to meet our Kyoto targets, our economy would still grow by 23% from 2010 to 2020. At this level of economic growth, Canada could improve pubic transit, upgrade our electricity grid, subsidize key manufacturing industries to maintain 2008 levels, reimburse home owners for higher energy costs, invest in domestic agriculture, reduce personal income tax and create more and better jobs than in a “do nothing” scenario. Denmark took a similar strategy, starting in the late 1970s, and has demonstrated how this approach can improve the economy, achieve energy security and fulfill Kyoto commitments.

The report suggests that Alberta would be the most penalized province, with growth over the 10 year period dropping from 57% to 38% (which is still the highest growth in Canada) and this could cause regional tension. However, as a 3rd generation Albertan with a 30 yr. career in the oil and gas industry, I believe that the TD bank may not be including 2 important factors in their predictions. First, it may not be possible for Alberta and Canada to meet the higher level of economic growth as predicted in their models. During recent years we have seen Alberta’s economic growth restricted by shortages of labour and materials. In addition to this, the US DOE Energy Information Administration/ Energy Outlook 2009 predicts that world-wide oil production will not meet demand unless oil prices exceed $100/ barrel from 2010 to 2020. Canada’s economy currently consumes 5.6 Million barrels of oil equivalent per 1 million dollars GDP (this figure includes 2.73 Mbbls of oil) and it is the least energy efficient economy in the developed world. This leaves us highly vulnerable to this level of energy pricing. At first glance, this looks promising for Alberta - being a major oil exporter - however, we have recently seen that oil prices in excess of $100/bbl can damage world economies and ultimately stifle demand. Second, Alberta is among the best places in the world for solar and wind resources. Unfortunately, these sectors of the Alberta economy have been neglected and even Calgary’s Canadian Hydro Developers built their latest wind farm developments in Ontario because of Alberta’s inadequate electricity grid and the lack of incentive for renewable energy projects. If the Alberta government provided an environment that supported renewable energy, I firmly believe that Alberta would experience tremendous growth in this important sector of the economy.

Finally, I believe the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit will be a measure of our morality. While there is uncertainty in the climate science, like in economics, there is no doubt that we are damaging our atmosphere and the very planet that supports all life. Short term greed should not dictate something as important as this. Committing to ambitious reductions in green house gas emissions, as outlined in Bill C-311 and in the recent BQ motion brought forward my Mr. Bigras, is the right thing to do. Not only for energy security, job creation and stable economic growth but also for the environment.


Keith Hirsche
1161 Chapman Road,
Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L7
Phone: 250 929 5586

cc: Hn. Jim Prentice - Minister of the Environment
Hn. Michael Ignatieff
Hn. Gille Duceppe
Hn. Jack Layton
Hn. Jean Crowder
Hn. Keith Martin
Hn. Gordon Campbell - Premiere of British Columbia
Hn. Ed Stelmach - Premiere of Alberta
Hn. David Swann

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