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  • Writer's pictureSukhneet Singh

The Climate Change Crisis: What We Need To Do?

We are currently in the midst of one of the greatest threats to humanity. You may be thinking about the pandemic, but that’s not the threat we’re focusing on here. Rather, climate change presents the potential of permanently changing our lives. With the lack of urgency towards policy reform, you’d think that climate change is one of the best kept secrets. However, it’s not, as governments, politicians, and even citizens know of the upcoming consequences. Regardless, we haven’t seen the change that is required. A major factor in this is the capitalist nature of the world economy and the government catering to the needs of the fossil fuel sector.

The fossil fuel sector provides a lot of profit and economic development but at the cost of the environment and long-term economic sustainability. Knowing this, why don’t we see any change? Well, it’s complicated, but it’s also not. The fossil fuel sector has politicians in their pockets and uses lobbying to get what they want. Governments see the economic benefits and know that they will not be in power long enough to deal with the consequences.

Reform is going to be hard but we need to act immediately as we don’t have much time left to prevent irreversible effects from climate change. However, one way we can fight climate change is through a fossil fuel subsidy phase-out and then a complete phase-out of the sector. However, there will always need to be a minimal presence to manufacture certain goods without harming climate change goals.

The fossil fuel sector continues to receive over $3 billion in subsidies despite being extremely profitable and established. The purpose of subsidies is to help establish new industries so they can compete internationally. The fossil fuel sector is no longer a new industry and does not require government support to be competitive. Also, the government has spent billions more to support pipeline infrastructure. Recently the federal government spent $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and plans to spend what was calculated at $7.7 billion to run another pipeline along with the existing one. Currently, this cost has now increased to $12.6 billion and can still grow. Developing fossil fuels is costly in both economic and environmental terms.

Now what’s the solution if we don’t use fossil fuels? Renewable energy is what will drive us to an environmental and economically sustainable path going forward. However, this is only possible through developing the green energy sector first. Through a subsidy swap from fossil fuels to green energy, the green energy sector will be ready to take over the energy market by the time a fossil fuel phase-out is completed.

Despite the obvious benefits of a green energy shift, some are wary about job loss because of a subsidy phase-out. Well, the fossil fuel sector is becoming increasingly automated and decreasing jobs every year. In comparison, the green energy sector will create long-term permanent jobs for those workers that do lose jobs during the shift. Additionally, transition programs through government funding are needed to re-train workers to enter a new sector.

Green energy has already come so far from where it was initially at the beginning of 2010. Electric cars were more expensive and their range would rarely go over 200 kilometres. Fast forward to 2021 and electric cars are beginning to take over the market. All major automobile companies either have or plan to come out with an electric car. Electric car ranges are upwards of 500 kilometres and there is a much larger variety compared to 10 years ago. Wind and solar energy are also becoming more affordable and efficient. This will only continue and a subsidy swap will accelerate this process.

In addition to transportation, green energy will also need to take over the energy grid. Although provinces are increasingly using green energy for their electricity grids, fossil fuels are still a major source. Renewable energy comes in the form of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. These technologies will only undergo more innovations to meet the increasing energy demand of Canadians.

Governments and politicians need to act on a subsidy phase-out and swap to the green energy sector and it is our jobs as Canadians to ensure they do. We must educate ourselves on the long-term environmental impacts of fossil fuels and do whatever we can in our daily lives to assist the fight against climate change. This is not something that can be done in a year or even half a decade. It is going to be a long and hard fight, but it is a fight that we must win for our sake and for future generations to come.

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