The oil and gas pipeline drama has taken center stage during this federal election campaign, with the expansion of Trans Mountain and the resurrection of Coastal GasLink becoming universal political balls worthy of debate.
However, until now a fossil fuel has remained out of the limelight, unrecognized by three of the platforms of the five main parties: thermal coal.
Two centuries ago, humans began to use thermal coal, a deceptively cheap source of energy, to heat your homes. Today, despite the wide availability of cleaner alternatives, it is use to generate electricity globally and continues to drive the industrialization of low-income nations, but at tremendous cost to human and planetary health.
According to the International Energy Agency, coal energy produces 30 percent of global carbon pollution of electricity generation: more than 10 billion tons of greenhouse gases that warm the planet. In addition, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Jonathan Wilkinson, has set Thermal coal is the main contributor to climate change.
That is why, in this election, all parties must take a position to eliminate shipments of thermal coal from our western provinces and coasts.
To its credit, Canada has been a world leader in the Driving the Past Coal Alliance, which urges all countries to phase out coal power. In June, Canada forbidden new thermal coal mining projects and plans to expand existing mines. This was, and continues to be, a positive step in the fight against climate change.
It is difficult to understand, then, why Canada continues to facilitate the distribution of thermal coal from domestic and American mines in Wyoming and Montana by rail, then by sea, to foreign markets – coal that Washington, Oregon and California refuse to ship because to its environmental impact. risks. How can we ask the world to fuel thermal coal and then proceed to ship the same thermal coal through the largest coal port in North America, the Port of Vancouver?
The World Health Organization has set Climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st century, while carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels is the biggest contributor to climate change. As a risk amplifier, climate change increase the load from heart disease, lung cancer, strokes, and respiratory infections.
Climate change has already caused major social disruption, with drought and poor harvests setting the stage for the Syrian civil war, Pacific island migration swallowed up by rising sea levels and loss of life from heat waves around the world.
In addition to global warming, air pollutants from coal plants have also been linked chronic heart and respiratory diseases and a number of acute ailments. In addition, thermal coal contains significant amounts of mercury, a substance that accumulates in aquatic food chains and in the bodies of people who eat contaminated fish.
During pregnancy, unborn babies exposed to mercury are more likely to experience developmental deficits. Stopping thermal coal exports, Canada will clean the air on our planet and protect the health of future generations.
Opinion: By stopping exports of thermal coal, Canada will clean our planet’s air and protect the health of future generations, writes @Melissa_Lem. # elxn44 #ClimateAction
Until this summer, as a family doctor in Vancouver, the health impacts of climate change still seemed distant. But after hearing the sirens for three nights in my neighborhood, treating more patients with heat illness than ever in my career, and mourning hundreds of preventable deaths in my province, the reality of the climate emergency hit me. My first-hand experience with heat-induced suffering has made it even more frustrating to watch barge after barge of thermal coal leave Vancouver ports to be burned abroad, exporting a climate criminal to nations even less fit to weather. their efects.
The fight against climate change through coherence in all its economic activities must be a daily and deliberate choice for any government concerned about the health of its residents. The principles of sustainability require us to take only what we need and leave the rest for our future generations.
The next elected federal government must take its energy policy into the 21st century and combine its international discourse with progressive environmental policies that include a ban on thermal coal exports, and we must all do our part by voting.
Dr. Melissa Lem is a Vancouver family physician and President-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.