Climate change, New Brunswick, and the federal election

NEW BRUNSWICK – There are some top issues in the 2021 federal election for not only Canada, but specific to New Brunswick. Housing, healthcare, firearms, pharmacare, vaccine passports, and climate.

This year has seen extreme drought caused by an unrelenting heatwave across the western provinces, which contributed to devastating forest fires which in turn impacted air quality across the country and here in Charlotte County.

Heavy rainfall in Western Europe caused flooding which caused dozens of deaths. Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and parts of north-eastern France were also badly hit.

“Climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme weather events,” states the World Meteorological Organization website, “and many single events have been shown to have been made worse by global warming.

“The record breaking heatwave in parts of the U.S. and Canada at the end of June would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.”

In a joint statement release today, Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, Nature NB, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society — New Brunswick Chapter, and the Conservation Council of New Brunswick have several questions for the New Brunswick federal candidates, beginning with what will be done to protect provincial wetlands, forests, and coastal habitats.

“In August, 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report on the state of the climate. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has called the findings ‘code red for humanity,” says the statement.

“The report confirms many fears; we are already experiencing human induced climate change, and headed for 1.5 degrees of warming by the 2030s.

“Healthy and robust ecosystems provide efficient, successful, and cost-effective tools to reinforce the local economy, protect people’s health and security, buffer communities from extreme weather like flooding, ice storms and sea-level rise, and reduce greenhouse gas levels.”

Canada committed to meeting the emissions reduction target of the Paris Agreement by 2050, and the statement says meeting the target will rely heavily on the “carbon-storage capacity” of wetlands, and coastal habitats.

These groups collectively want to know what candidates will do to protect these important biological resources, as well as “protecting our communities from flooding, ice storms, sea level rise and other adverse effects of climate change and rising carbon emissions?”

The groups also say New Brunswick has the lowest rate of protected areas in the country at 4.7 per cent. The province claims a goal 10 per cent, while the feds have committed to much higher rates. Ocean stewardship must also be at the top of the climate list, says the statement.

The group asks for specific details on how each candidates party will ensure land and ocean protections moving forward.

The groups also want a firm plan on incentivization of private landowners to “become involved in advocating and managing for conservation and protected areas as a part of community climate response”.

“Within New Brunswick, a large portion of the land is privately owned,” says the statement.

“Privately protected land can increase connectivity between habitats allowing species to travel for food, shelter and reproduction.

“Engagement with and uptake of private land management programs focused on conservation are important to promote shared responsibility and shared solutions for land protection at the local level.”

And as the topic delves into land management, so the New Brunswick group advocating for an end to the spraying of glyphosate, Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB), has its priority list for federal candidates.

“Of course forestry is under provincial jurisdiction and only GNB (Government of New Brunswick) can stop glyphosate and other similar acting herbicide spraying on crown (public) land,” said Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, chair of SSNB.

“At the federal level, the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) needs to revisit glyphosate formulations because more recent peer reviewed research from BC has shown lingering of glyphosate in plant tissues, effects on reproductive organs of plants.

“Dr. Matthew Betts’ presentation of his research on effects from forest glyphosate spraying on bird populations to the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability showed a clear effect on bird habitat/populations.

“Support from federal MP’s would of course help us with our advocacy because it is important that the rest of Canada sees the heavy spray activity on the relatively small land-base in the province of New Brunswick. One third of all glyphosate used in forestry lands on New Brunswick forests,” says Lubbe-D’Arcy.

“It seems that GNB will need to feel pressure from all sides, and maybe the embarrassment of the lack to regulate in forestry, not to mention the cost to the public.

“In Charlotte County, Highway 780 is a great example of what this type of forestry looks like. Devastation is the only appropriate word for this behaviour by forestry companies on crown land.”

In the Tuesday, Sept. 14 edition of the Courier, watch for our “Get to know your candidates” feature, where we’ll put some of of these tough climate questions to the federal candidates for Charlotte County.