Professor Mark Jaccard speaking at a recent Global Civic salon
"We humans are quite clever at deluding ourselves into believing that we're reducing reducing greenhouse gas emissions, when in fact we're doing very little." That tough statement begins a short talk by Professor Mark Jaccard of SFU's School of Resource and Environmental Management. Jaccard was one of several speakers at former Mayor Sam Sullivan's public salon held in June at the Vancouver Playhouse.
Jaccard's message is grim, but clear. "We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our businesses and in our homes. We need to do it everywhere in everything we do." He goes on to propose that we need to switch to non-fossil fuel cars, but unfortunately that recommendation is also problematic. Electric cars also have a huge carbon footprint, and biofuels are also having huge consequences for the food economy.
Where Jaccard is most critical is on the concept of "carbon neutrality". He argues that it is a "fiction" to think that we can continue to burn fossil fuels at will, as long as we're plumping up a hydro dam somewhere in China, or some similar trade-off. Local governments are using carbon credits as a measure to create offsets. There is no doubt that someone is getting rich doing this, and it isn't taxpayers.
We've been highly critical of the "symbolic environmentalism" taking place at Vancouver City Hall, for example, which takes our eye off the real goals of building more dense and efficient cities. Jaccard's speech adds fuel, so to speak, to the discussion about the urgency of climate change. Real leadership from cities is one way this will have to happen, not photo ops and gestures.
- post by Mike