Earth Day 2012: What Would you Do with 1.4 Billion Dollars?

 

Posted: Friday, 20 April 2012

Earth Day is a day to celebrate the earth and think about our connection to it. On this 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, it is time to acknowledge how our lives connect with the sustainability of the planet and how, as a country, we are managing our vast natural resources and committing to future generations; but here in Canada, right now, it is challenging to celebrate our connection to the earth. The federal government is chipping away at all environmental protection in this country including recent announcements to weaken Canadian environmental assessments and fisheries protection – all in the name of oil company profits.

Canada desperately needs political leadership to develop a plan to take action on climate change, sustainably manage our natural resources and drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. At the federal level, Canada has failed to take any meaningful action on climate change and instead has continued to subsidize oil and gas companies, some of the most profitable corporations in the world, with 1.4 billion dollars a year of taxpayer money, 840 million of which is in the form of special tax breaks. This money could go to projects that improve Canadians’ quality of life and safeguard our future.

  • 1.4 billion dollars could lift all Canadian Seniors out of poverty (by increasing GIS by 15%, only costs 1.1 billion);
  • 1.4 billion dollars could cover 40% of a national affordable public child care system;
  • 1.4 billion dollars could cover two thirds of all student loans taken out last year;

Not only does Canada subsidize oil and gas companies, we also provide generous royalties to oil and gas companies. While Norway, a country of five million people, sits on an oil fund with a value of 570 billion dollars in savings, we are giving away our natural resources for virtually nothing while the quality of life of Canadians is diminishing. The Canadian and Alberta governments are so generous to oil companies, that in the next three years, Albertans will lose $55 billion dollars in potential royalties.  

It is time for a proactive and real discussion to protect the nation’s resources and communities while shifting to renewable energy resources and a green economy. As we move forward as a planet to reduce our dependence on oil, it’s time to put an end to special tax breaks to oil, coal, and gas companies, the first step in the transition to the just, safe and livable future we need.

April 22 is not a time to be sombre, but instead a time for solidarity, Earth Day is the first completely international and universal holiday that the world has ever known. Every other holiday is tied to one place, or some political or special event while this Day is tied to Earth itself. On Earth Day take a moment to revel in the possibility that surrounds us, a moment to be hopeful for the future, then get ready to fight. More than ever, we need to inform ourselves, speak the truth, and challenge governments and corporations to live up to their stated concern for the earth.

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