Dear Premier Christy Clark and the Government of British Columbia,
We write this letter as youth, the generation inheriting the impact of your government’s decisions on fossil fuel development and climate change. We have never experienced a month of below-average temperatures, yet freak storms and record breaking heat have become common place with each passing year. Just this past spring, we witnessed our Alberta neighbours' homes and lives washed away by historical flooding.
We have watched elected officials set, miss and abandon their own commitments to take climate action. We are listening to the warnings of scientists and frontline communities that we must act more urgently.
British Columbia’s early leadership in combating global warming was a step in the right direction. Legislating greenhouse gas reduction targets and pricing carbon pollution are clear actions that support the goal of a safer climate. But your promotion of British Columbia as a pathway for tar sands oil is a direct threat and failure to account for ours and future generations.
Any progress your government makes towards addressing climate change within BC will be undone by the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines. Whether for use domestically or for export, building new fossil fuel infrastructure in BC is creating a gateway to climate disaster.
Your recent announcement with Allison Redford about expanding fossil fuel export from British Columbia means a future of oil spills, contaminated water, polluted air and most importantly, a legacy defined by climate disruption.
Together, the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines would add over 130 Mt of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of 25 million new cars on British Columbia's roads. These pipelines are the fuses of a global carbon bomb. Unless we act, tar sands development could release triple the amount of greenhouse gases allowable under a two degree climate limit. This on top of their devastating impact on frontline, Indigenous communities in Northern Alberta.
The mountain pine beetle continues to spread through British Columbia at an alarming rate. Sea level rise on the Pacific coast is being projected at higher rates than ever before. Droughts and flooding threaten food production in the Lower Mainland and wildfire rates are expected to climb by fifty percent across the province. Around the globe climate change is driving millions of people and entire communities from their homes. All of these are signs that our planet is hurtling towards greater climate disruption.
In the face of this, you want to pave the way for tar sands pipelines.
Tar sands threaten communities from the source to the coast. Communities across British Columbia (1,2,3,4) have already rejected the Northern Gateway and Trans-Mountain pipelines. An unbroken wall of resistance from Indigenous communities stands in opposition to bringing tar sands crude to the coast. They have been joined by municipalities and local governments, and time and again thousands of people across BC have turned up at rallies, signed petitions and told this government the same thing: No. We stand with those communities, and their right to say no, and today we are adding our voice to that call.
This is the time for bold action that recognizes not just the threat of climate change but the opportunity it offers to not just heal the planet but to create meaningful work and economic stability.Investing in clean energy creates more jobs than investing in fossil fuels by a staggering rate of fifteen to two. That's not including the thousands more jobs we could create in building retrofits, sustainable transportation and forestry that we could make by investing in a just, green economy instead of paving a pathway to climate disaster.
Opening up BC to tar sands exports is a mistake that people and the planet cannot afford.
Reject tar sands from the coast, from the province and from our climate.
Sam Harrison, Director, Kids for Climate Action
Lindsay Pearce, Director, Sustainable SFU & Mike Soron, Executive Director, Sustainable SFU
Anjali Appadurai, Organizer, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice
Sydney Emo, The Windermere Leadership Program
Sophia Yamauchi, The Windermere Leadership Program
Kelsey Mech, Victoria Student
Cameron Fenton, National Director, OurClimate.ca - the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
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Note: We look forward to working with allies on developing programming and actions that look to grow from tar sands pipelines to address the other issues related to climate justice in BC and the West. As we draw closer to PowerShift BC we want to highlight the many other issues important to communities, so if have an idea or want to collaborate email us at firstname.lastname@example.org