Mayor Watts can’t imagine a clean alternative to coal
“It’s all well and good to say, ‘Don’t mine for coal ever again, don’t ship coal ever again.’ But what are the alternatives? If you’re going to ask to have these things banned, then you need to have an alternative. So what does that look like? That’s the missing piece with all of this.”
- Mayor Dianne Watts, March 8 2013, Globe and Mail
The war on carbon is at our doorstep. The plan to export American coal through Surrey Fraser Docks to Asia is one of 14 carbon bomb megaprojects that threaten to put the world on a path to a 6 degree increases by 2100. That would take us well beyond the internationally agreed limit of a 2 degree increase. Only by stopping this fossil fuel project, and others, like the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines, can we have any hope of slowing climate change.
The threat is quite real. Even at a 3 degree increase, New York City will face knee-high flooding, the world’s coral reefs will be acidified, Italy, Spain, and Greece will become heat deserts, corn and wheat yields will decrease by 40%, hurricane intensity will increase by 30%, and 40% of species on Earth will be at risk of extinction.
Climate change is an enormous problem that often seems beyond our capacity to influence. However, there has never been a clearer opportunity for us to choose our future. We have the capacity to stop the export of coal to China. What we do at the local level has never mattered so much.
Becoming a coal exporter is so clearly against the supposed sustainable future of Surrey. In fact, if flies right in the face of the praised Sustainability Charter, a document introduced by the Mayor that codified all city-making decisions through a triple-bottom line lens. If the City is truly changing its way, there is no more powerful choice it can make than denying the Port’s coal plans.
But to do so, we need leaders who understand the severity of climate change. In stating that she cannot imagine an alternative to coal, in a province fuelled by hydro and a City building a geothermal energy system, Watts is clearly not up to the challenge. How serious can we take her commitment to changing Surrey’s growth patterns or embracing transportation alternatives if she endorses us becoming a coal exporter.
Surrey has a choice to make. Either it can be complicit in the worst global disaster facing our species, or it can draw a line in the sand and embrace a bright, green future. It cannot do both. I would suggest Mayor Watts show some leadership and choose where she stands.