John Horgan: Where I stand on climate change

BC NDP Leader John Horgan delivered a speech on climate change at the speaker series, Thinking Big About BC at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at SFU, hosted by the Broadbent Institute, Jan. 23, 2017.

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Thanks to her choices, BC is on the path to overshoot our 2050 emissions targets by a country mile.

Her inaction is putting the tough choices and the hard work onto the backs of the next generation.

It’s not fair, and it’s not right.

Every climate policy should be judged by one critical measure: are emissions going up…or are they going down?

Under Christy Clark’s leadership, emissions will go up for the next decade. We can’t afford another four years of her inaction.

We believe in the ability of people to come together and find solutions where none existed before. 

We can do it…

By building a clean economy that’s growing, and training our people to work in it

By putting a fair price on pollution without hurting low-income families or rural communities

By providing certainty for business and opportunities for people

We will do it… by staying true to our social democratic values:

Working for people and communities. Investing in safe and dignified work that pays a living wage. Achieving true reconciliation and economic opportunity for First Nations. And embracing environmental stewardship that is second to none.

And we will do it by standing firm against projects that take us in the wrong direction.

Which is why we have said No to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

That decision was made crystal clear to me when I witnessed the damage done by the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart near Bella Bella in October.

I was invited by the Heiltsuk people to come to their territories and see the damage first-hand. When I was there, I talked to the people whose lives were devastated by that oil spill. I was deeply moved by their efforts to clean up a mess B.C. was not ready for.

And as devastating as that spill was, it is small compared to the risk of bitumen coating our ocean and coast. That’s a mess we have no hope of cleaning up.

Christy Clark’s pipelines and tanker traffic are a risk we cannot afford. For our climate, our province, our jobs, and our way of life.

I want BC to be the place that leads the world in showing that environmental and economic priorities can and must be reconciled. 

A place where we reject “either/or” thinking around environmental protection and economic progress.

Where we reject projects that don’t get it right.

Where we say yes to good projects—the right projects that benefit all British Columbians in the long term, and are built on respect for First Nations.

I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me. I want to act for the next generation. 

This is your world, and I want to leave it healthier than I found it.

My son made that real for me a few years ago when I was mowing the lawn one hot Sunday in early November.

He came up to me and said: I don’t think you’re supposed to be cutting the grass in November, Dad. We’re living in a rainforest.

But his comments hit me hard. I was just enjoying a sunny day. For him it presented the prospect of a burning planet.   

I’m not saying I have all the answers. But I want a climate plan that meets our challenges and builds an economy that secures our future.

New Democrats have a history of wrestling with difficult issues. We like to wrestle. We’re getting pretty good at it.

I would say we welcome it. We know the answers come when we bring people together and have the tough conversations that move us forward.

We will always keep real people at the heart of our choices. Because that’s who matters most to us. 

On that Dam-Moose tour, my wife helped me see the forest for the trees. 

There was a lesson there. It was that understanding a problem is about wanting to see it and taking a hard look.

It’s about quantifying it to make that vision clear, and it’s also about a repetition of facts that are undeniable.  

On that unusually warm Sunday in early November, my son reminded me that to sit back and accept the status quo isn’t an option. To do that is to fail our kids. 

We must to take action to defeat climate change.   

And that’s where I stand. 

Thank you.

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