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Tongue-tied politicians remain status quo on climate

On Jan. 3, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced that “just transition” legislation, a 2019 election campaign promise by the federal Liberals, was set to be introduced in 2023.

Upset about the use of the “polarizing” term “just transition,” Alberta’s environment minister Sonya Savage, without any sense of irony, complained, "It means phasing out fossil fuels immediately, keeping it in the ground," and "Even more than that, it means restructuring societies and economies and redistributing wealth." According to our very best science, this is exactly what we should be doing. The redistribution of wealth is a major red flag for powerful interests, who continue to rake in fortunes at astonishing rates while overseeing the unabated destruction of earth's eco and life support systems.

Devoid of any backbone, Wilkinson quickly assured Savage, and no doubt the industry, that the Liberals had no intentions of shutting down oil and gas production while also affirming his preference for the term “sustainable jobs” over “just transition.” Joining the lexicon of Orwellian language like carbon trading, markets, offsets, sinks, capture and much more, it will, in all likelihood, change little. The unrelenting rise in fossil emissions has continued with every new government scheme, matched only by the soaring profits of the already uber-rich.

Elected officials have shown little appetite to tackle the sector. Last year the parliamentary budget officer found that taxpayers had already paid out more than a billion dollars for the cleanup of abandoned/ orphaned oil and gas wells. Politicians who routinely cry foul about the waste and mismanagement of our tax dollars were apparently tongue-tied on this occasion.

A Just Transition must be the foundation upon which we rebuild our societies. While it is essential to recognize that workers in the industry cannot be left behind, we must also demand redress for the historical injustices of empire-building and its ongoing effects on many of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

The new year has