The environment and the economy — can we have it all?
A new CBC EKOS Research poll suggests the country is conflicted between the environment and the economy, especially when discussing the future of the oil and gas industry.
The new Liberal government ran on a platform of prioritizing both.
"There is a way to bring the economy and the environment together that both of them have identified as a priority," Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said in an interview last week.
"We all agree that in the 21st century Canada's prosperity must be built on the principle that the economy and the environment go hand in hand," said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said at a meeting with her provincial counterparts in January.
But can it be done? Can we really have it all? Here's how the conversation went:
"Environmental economists have made it clear: externalities associated with 'dirty' industry far exceed the benefit. Even ignoring CO2, coal power causes 15 to 20 cents of damage per kWh. Natural gas is closer to five to 10 cents. If you internalize the external costs you see that clean energy saves money." — John Doe
"Having worked at a power generation company previously, I can tell you that even though wind and solar power are being touted as the future, people still want nothing to do with it. People seem to be fine with windmills so long as it is not in their backyards. As soon as it is, there will be a fight or a protest. Everyone needs power, but no one seems willing to put up with the direct or indirect costs anymore." — Ray Hauser
"I see our environment as an integral component of our economy, especially where our economy is heavily resource driven by the 'harvesting' of our oil, minerals, ores, lumber, etc.You can't separate the two and it is not a case of either/or as they greatly impact on each other. A way has to be found to tackle both at the same time. There is no reason it can't be done but it needs political will, citizen support and scientific know how." — Kate
"Not only can economic and environmental improvement coexist, but they actually must. The losses to our GDP by air pollution, climate damage, and other environmental factors is expected to total around four per cent of our GDP by 2050. That's completely unaffordable, and trying to save a few bucks today at a loss of more than hundred billion dollars per year down the line would be plain old bad economic policy." — George Kenyon
"If we're going to wait for action on climate change to be cost-free, then we'll be waiting in vain. The ultimate question comes down to how dire you think the situation is." — David J.
"The fact that the government is spending on infrastructure instead of significant investments in the development of green tech means they we need to give them a shake. If we build more infrastructure, it just means more maintenance costs in the future. If we invest in green/clean tech or numerous other technology development opportunities, then the government is acting as an investor and there is a chance of a return on their investment. It also provides the country a chance to diversify away from resource extraction as our biggest revenue source." — Jason