Our enviro report card: “Can do better. Must.”

You may (we hope) have seen our series of infographics that we related to Earth Day on April 22.

The question we posed with them was this: “How well are we treating Mother Earth while earning our living on the land?”

The latest environmental report card of the Conference Board of Canada finds we‘re the third-best province in Canada on the being-green scale.

The report follows an earlier study from the University of Western Ontario showing that per-capita emissions in BC, Ontario, and Quebec are comparable to the best performers in Western Europe.

Now that we have patted ourselves on the back for all that, let us openly recognize that we have some improvements to work on.

This writer remembers, from many decades ago, the school report cards sent to his parents that always seemed to say the same thing: “Can do better. Must.”

The same can be said for BC and the environment in 2016.

Sure, we got As from the Conference Board for our low-emission electricity production (hydro dams) and for keeping sulphur dioxide emissions down.

But we also got three Bs, two Cs and (blush) three Ds. These last were for nitrogen oxide emissions, PM10 particulate pollutants, and “energy intensity” (the ratio of energy production and use to GDP).

Mind you, the Conference Board compared Canada with some small, densely populated western European nations, rather than looking at us alongside many other resource countries.

As we noted at the time: “Where it really counts, Canada ranked above the only other diversified resource nations on the list of places studied. The United States is two places behind Canada and Australia lags by three places.” 

That said, third-best among the provinces can surely be improved on.

It will be a challenge, given that our proposed BC LNG projects will add to the greenhouse gases we produce here. But the LNG mission includes helping China to use natural gas to clean up its coal-pollution performance, so there should be a net benefit to the world.

There are well intentioned groups who think that they are helping the global environment by opposing LNG exports. They are not. The world desperately needs cleaner forms of energy like natural gas and Canada has a responsibility to provide it.

Knowing that our upstream gas industry continues to improve its operations is further reason to support our role as a global clean-energy leader.


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