One of Canada's most prominent environmentalists is saying that B.C. needs to embrace a green economy - and that independent power producers (IPPs) are an important part of creating one.
Tzeporah Berman, a co-founder of ForestEthics and a central mind behind the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest, said in a Monday interview that Canada only has a decade to turn around its economy, and that new climate initiatives ought to be a key part of that.
She'll be delivering a talk on green economics Thursday (April 9) at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in an event put on by the Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue.
Berman is now executive director of PowerUp Canada, a non-profit citizens' alliance that calls for "stronger laws to address global warming," among other initiatives. She and a group of people came together after the UN Climate Change Conference in 2007.
"We were horrified that Canada had played a role in stalling a strong international agreement in Bali," she said.
"We had an expectation that Canada would play a leadership role in addressing climate change, and when we started digging into this issue and found out that Canada has weaker laws and policies that almost any other country, we decided to come together to work on it."
At her talk in Whistler she'll likely address power generators such as wind, solar power, and yes, run of river hydro projects, a method of power generation that has proven very controversial in the Sea to Sky corridor and elsewhere.
New energy, she said, is the way for Canada's economic future.
"We need to be planning for climate solutions," she said. "What that means is planning for electric cars, for fuel switching, for our factories and ports to be on clean electricity and not fossil fuels.
"The only way we are going to be able to do that is if we dramatically scale up the expansion of renewable power and increase the efforts we're putting into conservation and efficiency."
IPPs have become a key issue leading up to the May 12 provincial election. Opponents of IPPs, which most often refer to run of river power projects, feel that they're not sustainable and amount to "privatizing" B.C. rivers because the projects are run by private, for-profit companies.
The Save Our Rivers Society is an organization formed in the Sea to Sky Corridor that opposes the projects because they are not publicly-owned, among other reasons.
On Monday, the society sent out a press release that quoted former NDP MLA Corky Evans saying, "It is simply a lie that we're short of power, it's a lie that these are green projects that the Liberals are selling, and it's a lie that it's good for people."
In the context of a global recession, Berman considers such comments "bizarre."
"We need jobs in this province," she said. "Here are entrepreneurial companies providing training in new clean tech industries, in green jobs, and for anyone to have blanket opposition to that I think is socially irresponsible."
As for the issue of private ownership, Berman said that the burden of establishing a power project can be too much for a government to bear.
"There is no other jurisdiction in the world that is being successful doing that who is not doing it through private IPPs," she said. "So to argue that it should be all state-controlled ignores the real world."
Thursday's event will go from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. and admission is a $10 donation at the door.