Creating a regenerative economy in N.B.

KEiTH HELMUTH


What kind of economy will New Brunswick have in the new energy future? A renewable energy platform is clearly coming and new energy platforms create new economies. The extraction and refining of hydrocarbons launched a new energy platform, which has created the modern economy and its many benefits. However, the growth of the hydrocarbon economy has now developed to such a scale that it has burst through the safe operating limits of earth’s geochemical and ecological boundaries, with increasingly negative effects. This is an unwelcome thought. We used to think that hydrocarbon energy paved the road to a better life. Up to a point, this idea made sense, but a threshold of reversal has been crossed.

Crossing this threshold means that, from a certain point on, the negative effects of burning hydrocarbons will be greater than the benefits. The danger of these negative effects is now so serious that it has brought almost all national governments on earth into agreement on reducing and limiting carbon emissions.

The message from the Paris climate agreement is clear: the energy platform of the economy must shift from reliance on carbon releasing fuels to a diversity of non-carbon emitting, renewable energy sources.

Fortunately, renewable energy innovators have been at bat, and it now looks like the most important public policy question is how fast this transition can be made without upsetting the apple cart of the economy.

In N.B., we are fortunate that the government has recently announced an excellent program to facilitate this transition -- Locally-Owned Renewable Energy that is Small Scale (LORESS). It’s a small start, but it’s heading in the right direction.

This transition is enormously attractive. We have the tools, materials, and knowledge to create a clean, rapidly growing, and sustainable energy platform. And the clincher is this: the renewable energy platform has the potential to help create a regenerative economy that builds up steady-state prosperity.

What might this mean for N.B.? Currently, the government seems to have one foot firmly on the hydrocarbon dock and the other stepping gingerly into the renewable energy boat. Will government grasp the economic potential of renewable energy and get fully on board?

What comes after the last use of the Energy East pipeline (if built)? What comes after fracked-out shale gas wells (if drilled)? When these projects have faded, and the jobs they created have vanished, what will they have contributed to a sustainable, self-regenerating economy?

The renewable energy industry, on the other hand, is creating a fast growing sector of sustainable, community-based employment.

Statistical analysis shows that for every $1 million invested in the oil and gas industry two jobs are created. For every $1 million invested in renewable energy 15 jobs are created. For every $1 million invested in upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings 14 jobs are created.

(See www.bluegreencanada.ca/more-bang-for-our-buck)

One of the key factors about the shift to renewable energy is that it triggers a new way of thinking about security and prosperity. It shifts thinking about the economy from the extraction of resources to the cultivation and regenerating of resources.

For example, policies that support the expansion of local food production and marketing will help build up a regenerative economy. Can we imagine a N.B. that produces at least 50 per cent of the food it needs?

Likewise, policies for woodlot and Crown land management that improve biodiversity and insure the longterm harvesting of high quality timber would move the forest industry from extraction to regeneration, and help build up a steady-state prosperity for forest-based livelihoods.

Will government catch the opportunity to facilitate a regenerative economy? This depends on whether the smart, renewable energy platform is placed at the centre of the province’s economic development future.

   

Keith Helmuth is a member of the Woodstock Sustainable energy Group

News from Groups Archives

Action Alerts

Conserve Our NB

Friday, 09 February 2018
by Nature Trust of New Brunswick

For countless generations, people in New Brunswick have cherished the wildlife and beauty of their natural surroundings. We have adopted many deeply rooted outdoor traditions that take us to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, forests, and coastlines of our beautiful province in all seasons of the year. Help protect the wild places that you love so that your family, children, and grandchildren will be able to enjoy them forever.

Over 95% of New Brunswick is currently unprotected and open to exploitation that could harm wildlife and damage the natural beauty of our province, and we need to act now to change that.

Through the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada has signed on to conserve 17% of land and freshwater by 2020.  As Canadians, it is our shared responsibility to hold the government accountable to achieving this target. The Nature Trust of New Brunswick is urging you to speak out to your provincial representatives to declare your support for increased land conservation in the province, and encourage them to set set their own conservation goals for the province and develop an action plan to achieve these goalsThrough Pathway to Canada Target 1, an Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) has been identified to ensure all elements of the initiative are guided by Indigenous experts across Canada, which should be reflected in New Brunswick’s efforts as well.

A vast majority of Canadians agree that protecting the environment is one of the most important issues currently facing our country. In a recent national conservation survey, 87% of Canadians support increasing the amount of natural areas protected from development, including at national parks. Join the growing movement of people who are speaking out in support of land conservation.

We’ve made it easy for you to take action! It takes less than a minute with our online template to send a letter to your local MLA. To learn more about what you can do to support land conservation, download the Conserve Our NB toolkit.  

Printable pledge link: http://www.naturetrust.nb.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Conserve-Our-NB-Pledge.pdf  Please help by joining the movement and collecting signatures from your corner of the province to show support for increased land and freshwater protection in NB. 

Please return pledge sheets with original signatures to the Nature Trust of New Brunswick office.
Next Deadline: March 13, 2018

By mail:
P.O. Box 603 Station A,
Fredericton, NB, E3B 5A6 

In person: 404 Queen St. 3rd floor,
Fredericton, NB

Have your say on Draft Water Strategy!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017
by Conservation Council of New Brunswick
A Water Strategy for New Brunswick

On October 6, 2017, the department of Environment and Local Government released a draft water strategy for comments. The draft strategy is available on the government website. Comments can be submitted by email to: waterstrategy-strategiedeleau@gnb.ca or by mail to: Department of Environment and Local Government, Policy and Planning Division, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5H1. Comments will be accepted until November 20, 2017.

In order to help groups with their submissions, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, in cooperation with watershed groups, has put together key elements of a watershed strategy and a sample letter to send to the Department.

Summary​ ​of​ ​8​ ​Key​ ​Elements​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Strong​ ​Water​ ​Protection​ ​Strategy

New​ ​Brunswick​ ​deserves​ ​a​ ​water​ ​protection​ ​strategy​ ​that:
    1. is​​ ​​science-based;​ ​(involving​ ​baseline​ ​data,​ ​tracking​ ​and​ ​taking​ ​into​ ​consideration cumulative​ ​impacts,​ ​environmental​ ​flows)
    2. sets​ ​water​ ​quality​ ​standards​ ​within​ ​a​ ​working,​ ​legal​ ​mechanism;
    3. conserves​ ​all​ ​water​ ​within​ ​​watersheds​ ​including​ ​surface​ ​waters​ ​(lakes,​ ​streams,​ ​rivers) and​ ​groundwater,​ ​by​ ​developing​ ​good​ ​conservation​ ​plans,​ ​policies​ ​and​ ​practices,​ ​and uses​ ​the​ ​precautionary​ ​principle​ ​as​ ​a​ ​guiding,​ ​legally​ ​enforceable​ ​tool;
    4. protects​ ​our​ ​marine​ ​coastal​ ​areas​ ​in​ ​law;
    5. has​ ​a​ ​meaningful​ ​form​ ​of​ ​​co-governance​ ​with​ ​First​ ​Nations;
    6. includes​ ​the​ ​development,​ ​implementation​ ​and​ ​enforcement​ ​of​ ​watershed​ ​protection plans,​ ​developed​ ​in​ ​a​ ​transparent​ ​manner,​ ​involving​ ​government,​ ​businesses,​ ​watershed organizations,​ ​farmers,​ ​municipal​ ​officials,​ ​and​ ​citizens;
    7. is​ ​accountable,​ ​which​ ​includes​ ​ongoing​ ​monitoring​ ​and​ ​annual​ ​reporting​ ​to​ ​the​ ​public​ ​on the​ ​progress​ ​of​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​objectives​ ​outlined​ ​in​ ​the​ ​water​ ​protection​ ​strategy;​ ​and,
    8. is​​ ​enforceable​ ​through​ ​a​ ​modern​ ​legal​ ​framework
Sample Letter
 My name is ______, and I am writing to express my support for a strong Water Strategy in New Brunswick.

I live near ______ OR I live in ___________ watershed

Describe your favourite spot to fish/swim/paddle etc.

Share your favourite water memory.

Clean, healthy water is important to me because _____________.

Have you recently experienced a boil water order? Blue-green algae? Extreme weather? Describe what is of concern to you.

I applaud the provincial government for moving forward on its commitment to protecting our water; however I believe the draft strategy does not go far enough to ensure healthy water for my watershed.

We need a water protection strategy that (Insert one or multiple key elements).

I am afraid that if left unattended, my watershed will face ongoing and increasing treats from (pollution, wetland and coastal estuary loss, loss of adequate environmental flow to sustain aquatic life, and increasing climate change impacts such as floods, droughts, and high temperatures.)

Please protect my watershed by implementing a strong water protection strategy with modern legislation that (note key element(s)) to ensure the health of our water and people.

Thank you,
Your name.

For more information, visit the CCNB's website.