The Manitoba Green Plan
Surely we all are in favour of sustainable development. Not to be on the side of sustainable development means, implicitly, that one is in favour of unsustainable development! No one wants to be in the “unsustainable” corner!
It follows that the Manitoba Government is to be applauded for wanting to introduce the Green Prosperity Act and for inviting comment on TomorrowNow – the Manitoba Green Plan, which is the first step in formulating the Act.
I have been studying the Plan. In an overall way, the Plan suggests that we can continue to grow our economy, and if we tweak things just a bit, we can grow our economy without damaging the environment. The Plan implies that through the implementation of this Green Plan everybody will be happy. Steps will be taken so people are trained in Green Jobs; we will develop the capacity to utilize the available biomass in Manitoba more effectively; we will clean up our water, particularly the water in Lake Winnipeg; we will be smarter and more energy efficient in the way we build our homes and in the way we do transportation. These are just some of the proposals put forth in the plan.
I support each of these proposals. It would be good to see them implemented. But I am reminded of the promise our then Premier, Gary Doer made in 2008. He promised to keep the emission of greenhouse gas emissions below a certain target. We all now know Manitoba came nowhere close to meeting that target.
Why was Doer so confident? Because Manitoba has this unique access to abundant hydro-electric energy, energy that does not put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Surely, he reasoned, with access to that resource, we can do it. And many fell in with that kind of reasoning. But we did not come close! So why not? I think it was because the polluters were not identified, and there was no penalty for pollution. We all want to be Mr. Nice Guy.
That really would be great if Manitoba could move towards are greener economy in a way that is win-win for everyone, not only on the long run, but on the short run too. But life rarely unfolds that way – particularly not on the short run. If Manitoba is to seriously become greener, there will be losers – inevitably. And those losers will be exactly those individuals and companies who benefit most when economic development proceeds with little regard for the environment.
So who exactly will the loosers be? Who will need to make the greatest changes if we go greener? Those who are the most removed from doing things nature’s way – those who most disrupt the natural cycle. You can identify them yourself. Let me just prime the pump with one of many possible examples: anyone participating in a food chain that imports (into the chain) non-renewable plant nutrients from distant places, feeds hungry mouths (including yours and mine), and deposits what remains in Lake Winnipeg. You can think of others!
TomorrowNow is available online. The South Eastman Transition Initiative will be hosting a meeting on Wednesday, August 28 to discuss this plan. The meeting will be at 6:30, at the Jake Epp Library. All are welcome.