Following in his father’s footsteps, my dad began working in underground coal mines in the St. Albert area while still in his teens.
It’s hard to imagine today, but a little more than a generation ago, coal purchased from area mines was still in general use for cooking and heating in area homes. A return to the good old days has some appeal, but I’m not sure about starting a fire in a cold stove to make my morning coffee.
For me, it is also hard to imagine that a generation from now we will still be burning fossil fuels to run our homes and economy.
It is beyond clear that emissions from burning fossil fuels increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which in turn increases the greenhouse effect and raises average global temperatures. This change to our climate is altering precipitation patterns, influencing the occurrence of extreme weather events, and contributing to sea level rise.
Further, whether or not we as Albertans unilaterally decide to reduce our production and use of fossil fuels, there are plenty of market signals indicating that change is coming, if it’s not already here. These signals range from the fight over pipelines, to the rapidly falling prices for renewable energy, to countries such as Britain, France and India implementing policies to eventually completely remove gasoline and diesel vehicles from their roads.
The status quo is not an option.
Unfortunately, the NDP and UCP are both doubling down on pipelines and subsidies from the oil and gas industry.
We need a government that is focused on a managed transition away from fossil fuels, including providing support for the just transition of workers to new careers. The energy transition does not have to happen overnight; however, the scientific community is clear that it must be a priority that makes significant progress before 2030. Embarking on this transition now has the added benefit of offering some certainty for industry, consumers and the community.
Working in area coal mines was a hard job, but an honest one that provided money for raising families and growing the community. But those jobs are long gone. My dad left coal mining for a new career in his 20s before he was forced to. Will we leave our overreliance on fossil fuels before we’re forced to?
Garth Borle, St. Albert