Failure to Invest in New Economy Worsens Ecological Deficit

Green stimulus would create jobs and protect BC’s valuable environment, say conservation groups

September 1, 2009

Victoria, BC – BC environmental groups warn that the 2009 budget update released today will result in not just a financial deficit but also an increasing ecological deficit that will weigh heavily on future generations. In the face of challenging economic circumstances, the groups call on government to focus economic stimulus on building a new, environmentally sustainable economy instead of propping up the old economy that continues to fail us and jeopardizes BC’s environmental future.

The groups pointed to the tragic collapse of this year’s salmon runs as an example of the ecological deficits created when the old economy is favoured over a new, green economy. "BC had a chance to invest in closed containment technology for salmon farms and in other industrial practices that protect fish stocks and habitat," said Christianne Wilhelmson, Georgia Strait Alliance. "Instead BC sacrificed the long-term survival of salmon and now we’re passing on a very real ecological deficit to our children."

"The government says we can’t saddle future generations with financial debt, yet this budget creates a dangerous environmental deficit that future generations may never be able to repay," said George Heyman, Sierra Club BC. "This budget invests in the old carbon economy, and even slaps climate-concerned British Columbians with a tax on bicycles and home energy retrofits."

Recent surveys show that Canadians overwhelmingly want government to ensure environmental protection despite the recession. More than two-thirds of Canadians rank protecting the environment on par with addressing economic problems*.

"Spending on roads is increasing more than 20% over the previous budget, yet funding for the highly successful LiveSmart BC program is not being renewed," said Tom Hackney, BC Sustainable Energy Association. "This is completely counter to what British Columbians say they want from government."

"Laying out a comprehensive vision for our energy needs is the hallmark of any credible economic recovery plan today," said Merran Smith, ForestEthics. "We want to work with government and the public to develop an environmentally responsible energy plan that will keep BC at the forefront of combating global warming."

"Pumping hundreds of millions into oil and gas development and transmission lines for mining and other climate unfriendly projects does not lay a solid foundation for BC’s future," said Will Horter, Dogwood Initiative. "Subsidies to oil and gas have increased by almost 6% while incentives for British Columbians to become more energy efficient are cut to nearly zero."

"Massive cuts to the Ministry of Environment are a false economy – it results in financial and ecological costs down the road." said Andrew Gage, West Coast Environmental Law. "A short-staffed Ministry ends up dealing with toxic contamination, dead fish and polluted cities after the fact, when these problems could have been simply and far more cheaply addressed before they occurred."

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  • BC Sustainable Energy Association – Tom Hackney, VP Policy (250-886-5076 or 250-744-2720)
  • Dogwood Initiative – Will Horter, Executive Director (250-418-1672)
  • ForestEthics – Merran Smith, Climate Director (604-816-5636)
  • Georgia Strait Alliance – Christianne Wilhelmson, Managing Director (604-862-7579 – French language interviews also available)
  • Sierra Club BC – George Heyman, Executive Director (604-312-6595)
  • West Coast Environmental Law – Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel (250-412-9784)