Canadian environmental non-governmental organizations need to shake off their “golden straightjacket” and demand the complete, planned elimination of fossil fuels from the national economy, climate activist Bill Henderson writes in a call-to-arms open letter in the Watershed Sentinel.
Reflecting on a visit to Vancouver on Canada Day, Henderson extols the many ways in which this country excels: “Walking downtown, the diversity and cosmopolitan nature of our society absolutely blew me away. We are an immense overachiever where historic problems such as racism and sexism are being addressed to a degree that few people anywhere could have imagined possible just a very short time ago.”
But, the climate hawk adds, “there will not be much further progress” if the country fails to raise a more effective response to global warming. Indeed, “there won’t be a Canada.” But Henderson dismisses the federal government’s current policy suite of proposed carbon pricing and marginal encouragements for decarbonization as “pretend mitigation.”
“Why are you not leading?” Henderson asks ENGOs and their members. “Why don’t some of you at least try the possibilities of actually keeping fossil fuels in the ground, instead of supporting what everyone knows is obvious failure?”
He urges the organizations to be much more daring and press for “a scheduled wind-down of all fossil fuel production and use in line with the best carbon budget science, responsibly and fairly regulated.”
As Henderson conceives it, “a regulated wind-down would provide the necessary strong, certain signal to markets, hopefully enabling optimum use of allowed production. Such a schedule would ensure an immediate, urgent reduction of production and use, with consequent emission reduction, but [also] signal that life will go on, markets will continue, our social evolution will continue.”
That approach offers a last chance to “keep us safe from the suite of dangers we know imminently threaten” if humanity fails to reduce global emissions immediately, he asserts.
“Have you no idea of how brilliant Canada is?” Henderson enjoins other activists after reflecting on the smooth functioning of a city often judged one of the world’s most liveable.
“We need to show the world that a wind-down schedule for fossil fuels is possible, workable, doable, and will lead to not only a climate solution for the world but—with continuing prosperity—a solution for many other bottleneck problems that threaten our future.”