Thursday, October 28, 2021

Stikine's Nathan Cullen highlights the merits he sees in Government's new Climate Change efforts

Sustainability and Climate Change were among the themes
for Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen on Wednesday at the Legislature

Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen had one of the key speaking roles Wednesday in defence of the recently introduced Climate Change Bill by the NDP government, the Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resources Operations providing for an extensive review of the legislation.

The Bill was introduced earlier this week by Environment Minister George Heyman with the Premier   and the Minister both outlining the scope of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030.

“Here in B.C., the threat of climate change is no longer decades or even years away. The impacts are all around us, from devastating wildfires to intense heat waves and droughts. The scale of the climate emergency demands that we act with even greater urgency than ever before. By bringing people and businesses together, we can rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient B.C. for everyone. That’s what this plan is all about.” -- Premier John Horgan.  

“By working with all sectors, we can see clearly where we are making progress and where new thinking and resources are required. The CleanBC Roadmap puts greater focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels faster and adopting clean energy solutions. It strengthens B.C.’s position to attract investment and build opportunity for British Columbians and embodies our determination and commitment to meet our climate targets.” -- George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Mr. Cullen opened his review of the legislation by framing it by way of responsibility  for British Columbians as well as the impact on the environment if we don't change some of our long held ways.

So what we're doing here in this bill today, I think, is important in terms of our responsibility as British Columbians — to expand the products that we are now going to limit, that will be either under a fee or banned outright, with some small and notable exceptions that I think we do need to mention. But that we will just simply not have them. 

There was great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth when it was originally suggested that the plastic straw — again, meant to last as long for as the drink lasts…. For most of us, if it's a tasty drink, it's not very long. 

But it will then go on for hundreds of years in existence and then eventually break down and end up in our food supply, sickening and poisoning future generations. But that plastic straw could be made out of something else. 

Well goodness, Speaker if you follow Twitter — and I don't necessarily advise anyone to do that, but if you do — when originally other straws that were brought onto the market, straws that we can actually make here in British Columbia…. The Ministry of Environment can talk about this as well and I'm sure has — our ability to actually create jobs with these alternatives…. 

Well, to go away from something that we were accustomed to. I get my drink. I get the plastic straw, and I know how it works. It's going to last for the duration of my time with that beverage. 

Who cares what happens next? 

Well, we do. We need to. We collectively need to. That the foam takeout container that lasts as long as it lasts until you eat those leftovers, the responsibility, once you so-called "throw it away" and it goes into the garbage, is still ours. It's still ours collectively. 

And I think the whole notion of garbage is a problematic way of thinking about things. It sort of makes it the other. Here I've got this thing and it's useful to me while I have it and as soon as it's not useful to me anymore, now it's garbage. It's somebody else's problem. 

Well we know that is no longer the right way of thinking. It's not sustainable. For somebody who lives in the North, many of our communities struggle with this responsibility: the responsibility of what happens when our citizens buy something, use something and then put it into the garbage. 

That our transfer and our dumps are filling up. They're incredibly expensive, an enormous burden on the taxpayers, over time. You just can't keep paying for these landfills.

The Stikine MLA also paid tribute to some of the leaders on the themes of climate and sustainability, including some from his own constituency, as well as to relay his own personal observations on recycling in political life.

I want to take…. I'll, perhaps, end here to the great gratitude of many in the place, with acknowledging efforts by the Minister of Environment, but also by some local leaders in my community in the northwest. 

We had lost our curbside pickup. We had a fire at the transfer station and it caused the whole domino effect within the community and we no longer had the ability, as residents in Smithers where I live, to be able to bring things down to curbside as most British Columbians, most Canadians do. 

Our regional director representative Mark Fisher, our local mayor Gladys Atrill, were incredibly persistent — and the Minister of Environment can confirm this if he chooses to — in rethinking the way that we were doing recycling in the northwest, because we have these challenges. 

Any of the rural or remote communities have the great distances to collect the material, send them on and get them somewhere useful so that they can be reused and repurposed. 

These two local leaders were incredibly motivated and dedicated and it was with great excitement when we could, once again, take our recycled materials, recyclable materials down to the curbside. I know it doesn't sound like a great thing, but it was remarkable to me because it was soon after the most recent election a year ago where we engaged in this project. 

Interestingly, it was one of the collective reasons I stepped back into politics. I left federal politics and folks were coming to me with these challenges like this one. It might seem small to people watching, but it mattered to us, and a bunch of other cases, sitting in coffee shops with people in Smithers, saying how are we going to fix this?  The system is not quite working for us in rural B.C. 

So I would try to phone in. I can remember contacting the minister's staff and saying is there anything we can do about this? Someone said you should run again and just do this all the time, because you enjoy it. We all believe in recycling, repurposing. It's really important not to simply throw things away, be they products or people. 

And I guess folks in the northwest thought that recycling was okay, because a year ago, with great gratitude to the folks in Stikine, I was re-elected to public office, which is an incredible honour and privilege. 

Every day you get to walk into a place like this and attempt as best as you can to represent the voices and concerns of people in your constituency. What we're doing here today on Bill 24, it is good to hear of support from across the way, to continue the work and to understand that it's iterative. That it's not perfect and not done. You continue to seek a better solution to the challenges that we face. But, similar to that campsite that we find, always try to leave it better than we found it. 

We as a generation, as generations, have been unable to make that promise to future generations to this point. We're trying and we're getting better, but when we all visit those schools and we talk to those kids and we say, you're the future, we have hope in you, you're who we're leaving this behind to, and inevitably one of those will say, well what are you doing about climate change? What are you doing about the forests?  What are you doing about the garbage that we see? 

Those are the voices that must compel us and motivate us that see these systems that were built improperly, incorrectly, without considerations of their sustainability and to make them better. 

And that's what we're doing with this bill. I'm very happy to support it.

The full text of Mr. Cullen's fifteen minute presentation can be reviewed in full from the Legislature Archive page here, starting at the 3:45 PM mark.

Some background the program can be examined here.

For more notes on the work of the MLA at the Legislature see our archive page here.

No comments:

Post a Comment