Horgan government fails to grasp the climate crisis

Statement by the Provincial Executive, Communist Party of BC, July 7, 2021

Recent events confirm the view of the Communist Party of BC that the refusal by Premier John Horgan and his NDP government to prioritize action on the deepening climate catastrophe has serious consequences for the people of British Columbia. The policies of this government are contributing to the global warming trend, ignoring the warnings by climatologists and other scientists that the time remaining to avoid catastrophe is now measured in years, not decades.

The scope of this danger was made abundantly clear in late June, when the “heat dome” over the west coast contributed to at least 500 additional deaths over a period of several days, and then by the fire which destroyed Lytton after historic Canadian temperature records were smashed by several degrees.  These particular events by themselves were not foreseeable; but the pattern of rising global temperatures has been forecast and recorded for decades. The evidence is undeniable – the emergence of capitalism as the dominant economic formation on our planet launched two centuries of massive carbon emissions and climate change. The negative impacts include widespread destruction of species, such as the deaths of an estimated one billion marine animals along the BC coastline caused by rising ocean temperatures in late June.

The necessary human response is also clear. Governments at every level must take immediate, comprehensive action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The destructive system of capitalism is an enormous barrier to measures necessary to protect people and the environment. We need to replace the private profit system with a socialist system based on collective public ownership and democratic working class political power.

But emergency action is needed now. This is where the government’s policies are an abysmal failure.  The Horgan NDP has continued the previous Liberal government’s strategy of tax giveaways ($1.3 billion in 2020-21 alone!) to encourage fossil fuel extraction and exports, such as the LNG projects. The government is also determined to complete the Site C dam, which is now $10 billion over budget.

Even in the short term, this government seems blind to the dangers of global warming. Prior to the June heat wave, which was forecast by meteorologists, the government failed to ensure adequate overtime shifts for ambulance crews and emergency medical personnel, leaving the health system unable to respond while hundreds were dying. Shockingly, regulations barring responders from wearing t-shirts or carrying water bottles made their jobs more difficult during the weekend which marked the worst crisis. The Premier’s initial response blaming individuals for not taking personal action was stunningly callous and out of touch with the realities faced by poor people, seniors and Indigenous peoples in British Columbia.

The Communist Party of BC urges the labour movement, Indigenous peoples, seniors’ groups, antipoverty movements, environmental movements and others, to demand that the Horgan NDP take immediate steps to mitigate the impact of record heat and fires this summer. We need to fight for a fundamental change of policies – instead of promoting the expansion of fossil fuel extraction and exports, British Columbia must begin to slash overall greenhouse gas emissions. This is a struggle for our survival, and to save the planet. There is no time to lose.

For more information, contact Communist Party of BC leader Kimball Cariou, 604-255-2041, or the Vancouver Island organizer for the Communist Party, Tyson Strandlund, 250-883-7321.