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

ACTION ALERT: Reinstate funding to the Canadian Environmental Network

Friday, 03 February 2017
by Raissa Marks
The Canadian Environmental Network and its provincial affiliate networks need your help!

Historically, the Canadian Environmental Network and its provincial affiliate networks including the NBEN received annual core funding from the Government of Canada. This was used to facilitate networking on environmental issues across the country, coordinate national and provincial issue-based caucuses, coordinate ENGO participation in federal public consultation processes, and maintain open lines of communication between ENGOs and the federal government.

In 2011, as part of the across-the-board cuts to civil society organizations by the previous federal government, all federal funding to the RCEN and its provincial affiliate networks was cut. This left the national network and most of the affiliates with functioning primarily on a voluntary basis with limited capacity to do their work.

There is hope that the current government will provide for renewed funding in its upcoming budget. This funding is crucial for the survival of the national network and many of the provincial affiliate networks. A proposal has been submitted. It now needs strong and immediate support from environmental groups and individuals across the country.

This is where you come in!

Please take a few minutes to write to Prime Minister Trudeau and your MP telling them why you value the RCEN, your provincial affiliate network, or environmental networking at the national level in general. Feel free to use the template letter provided below. You can personalize it based on your experience or simply copy and paste.

Trudeau’s email is justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca and you can find your MP’s email here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

Let’s show our federal politicians that a strong, well-connected grassroots environmental community is essential to a strong Canada!

Draft Template Letter:

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing to ask that annual core funding to the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN) be reinstated.

Historically, the RCEN provided a crucial link between environmental groups across the country, both large and small. This link was vital in helping communities address environmental issues right across the country and ensuring a robust approach to the development of environmental policy in Canada.

Since funding was cut in 2011, the RCEN and most of its provincial affiliate networks have been functioning primarily on a voluntary basis with limited capacity to do their work. This is not acceptable. A strong, well-connected grassroots environmental community is essential to a strong Canada. I urge you to reinstate core funding for this crucial work immediately.

Sincerely,

Still Time to Submit Comments - Snowmobile Trail Development up Mount Carleton

Monday, 21 November 2016
by Roberta Clowater, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - New Brunswick Chapter
You can still send in your comments until end of day Nov 21 (Monday) on the environmental assessment report about the proposed snowmobile trail at Mount Carleton Provincial Park. If you're not sure what to say, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - NB Chapter has summarized some of our key messages here: http://cpawsnb.org/images/upload/key_messages_EIA.pdf

Please send comments or questions to: lynn.white@gnb.ca or mail to: Lynn White, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1.