Editor: In preparation for the Territorial election, Fracking Action North (FAN) asked MLA candidates:
- Would you support a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, why or why not, and under what conditions would you allow it?
- Will you commit to proposing or supporting a motion calling for a moratorium on fracking until a comprehensive, transparent and public review of the risks and acceptability of fracking in the NWT is completed?
Of the 60 candidates, only 29 replied. Of these, 17 (61 per cent) supported a moratorium on fracking. Eighteen (64 per cent) committed to proposing or supporting a motion to the NWT Legislature calling for a moratorium until a public review of risks deemed them acceptable. Full responses can be read at www.cocnwt.ca.
The responses inform our vote. We find the lack of insight into the issues associated with hydrocarbon exploitation quite revealing. While all the normal impacts of oil and gas exploitation are of concern – health effects, impacts on water and wildlife, community polarization, higher costs of living without higher incomes for most people – few candidates recognize that continued fossil fuel development and use will have exceptional and extreme impacts on our climate and wide-ranging consequences for responsible governments and residents.
The impacts are no longer of the future, they are happening here and now. Record droughts around the world and here in the NWT are bringing truth to all the forecasts about the need to conserve water. Loss of permafrost alone is expected to cost billions of dollars in damage to public infrastructure.
World governments gather in Paris next week to develop aggressive national responses to a now dire climate situation. Scientists tell us that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground – including reserves in the North – if we are to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. This is an accepted fact but we are way behind in our responses.
Still, there is reason for optimism. Appropriate responses exist. We can develop a system-wide approach to tackling climate change, beginning with the adoption of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels. We have the technology and know-how to do this.
Not only does renewable energy reduce the threat of dangerous climate change, it is a way to address many of today’s challenges such as the loss of the middle class, income disparity, living costs, and the need for meaningful and lasting jobs and revitalize our social fabric and cultural diversity.
But political will is needed, starting today. Northerners need leaders who are willing and able to change with the times, acknowledge the science of climate change, and push for what is best for our families and communities now and in the long-term.
Co-Chair, Council of Canadians NWT Chapter