Fossil Fuel Extraction and Infrastructure
In order to stop catastrophic global warming we urgently need to stop building infrastructure that is dependent on fossil fuels, according to a 2011 report by the International Energy Agency.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the World Bank echo the stark warning that the chance to avert catastrophic climate disruption would be "lost forever” without an immediate shift away from fossil fuel infrastructure investment.
B.C. is the target of an unprecedented rush to build fossil fuel infrastructure - from Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals to the aggressive pursuit of unconventional gas extraction known as "fracking". Meanwhile, plans are afoot to more than double the number of coal mines in the province.
According to world-renowned NASA climatologist James Hansen, coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.
B.C.'s Carbon Footprint
In 2012, the B.C. government reported that official emissions got reduced by 4.5 per cent between 2007 and 2010, a modest step toward the 33 per cent reduction target that we are legally required to meet by 2020.
But a report by Sierra Club BC, “Emissions impossible?", revealed that B.C.’s 2010 carbon emissions are actually four times higher, totalling more than 250 million tonnes when uncounted emissions from fossil fuel exports and forests are included.
The provincial emissions tally selectively accounts for only a portion of emissions originating in B.C. It shrugs off the responsibility for the emissions created by the fossil fuels we export, and tucks away the dramatically increasing emissions from forest lands as a memo item.
The Sierra Club report warns that, if current emissions remain unchecked and new fossil fuel infrastructure is built as planned, by 2020 British Columbia could contribute over 600 million tonnes of emissions, more than doubling current emissions – a figure 10 times higher than official provincial emissions.
Unsustainable Logging Practices
B.C.'s temperate rainforests are one of the best carbon storehouses on the planet. one of world’s most powerful tools in the fight against climate change. They have the potential to become a vitally important part of a low-carbon economy, providing jobs, carbon sinks and species habitat. Unfortunately, B.C. is not making good use of this potential. in October 2012, the provincial government presented controversial recommendations which include revisiting land use plans, with an eye to logging in forest reserves and marginal stands. The recommendations are driven in search of the last timber in the interior, a region hit hard by the double whammy of over-harvesting and the Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak.
Current logging practices in old-growth rainforests cause massive loss of carbon storage. The ability to recover total carbon stores is limited for hundreds of years. At a time when our planet is more affected by global warming than ever before, it is unsustainable and reckless to jeopardize wildlife habitat and biodiversity for short-lived economic gain.
The data on massive emissions from BC’s forest lands show that we need a paradigm shift in forest management. In the face of climate change, we need to manage our forests in a way that enhances their resilience to the many pressures and stresses they will be facing -- from changing seasons, shifting water and fire patterns, to opportunistic outbreaks of pests.
Destruction of Carbon Sinks in the Ocean
BC's estuaries and intertidal habitats hold extraordinary potential for moderating climate change and should be our highest priority for conservation of any marine or terrestrial habitat. Worldwide, seagrass meadows and salt marshes are disappearing at rates 2 to 15 times higher than the world’s forests. In BC, these habitats mostly lack any legal protection and are constantly eroded by construction, boating, agricultural run-off and industrial pollution.
B.C.'s salt marshes and eelgrass meadow not only stash away enough carbon to balance the emissions of 200,000 passenger cars every year, but are also vital nurseries for marine life.