Image credit: Zybnek Burival on Unsplash.
Is it possible to have an economy that respects and even protects the environment? Ecological economists think so. But it’s largely missing from our national business modelling, decisions and debate.
The Trans Mountain pipeline (a plan to twin the oil pipeline from Edmonton, AB to Burnaby, BC) has loomed large and controversially in the minds of the Canadian public for a number of years now, with significant protests over environmental and fiscal concerns. In May 2018 Prime Minister Trudeau announced the Canadian Government was investing $4.5 billion to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline in order to ensure that plans moved ahead. Trudeau has argued this project is vital to Canada’s economy and will allow us to expand beyond exporting almost exclusively to the U.S. (where our oil is sold for low rates on account of the competition from the existing large supply in the U.S.). Instead, the Trudeau government says Canada will gain from diversifying into new Asian markets. (There have actually been examples of nationalized businesses turning a profit).
Significant criticism and public outcry has ensued, from environmental concerns over the increased potential of oil spills, to how the government is investing more in oil production than in safe drinking water to the 93 First Nations Reserves still waiting (according to Maclean’s magazine). Also that Canada is continuing to pursue an oil economy in a time when it has committed to a cleaner energy economy as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.
You can cut the numbers many ways (indeed, Maclean’s wrote this interesting article about faulty math). Yet, the perspective I wanted to bring forward in this post is one I’ve gained from taking the insightful course, Economic Literacy for a Green Economy, offered through the Sustainability Network.