Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Metro waste plan sends wrong signal to businesses (and residents)

The Vancouver Sun ran two columns this morning under the same headline. One was a strange piece of vitriol by the unpredictable Marc Jaccard, who indulged in vilifying environmentalists for setting "unrealistic" targets for GHG reduction (why does this man want to abuse people who could be his base if he were a bit more polite -- and if he could be a bit self-critical of his silver bullet cap-and-trade?).

The other comment, written by the CEO of the Globe Foundation, was the one with the interesting content. The important point of this article was that Harper's climate program sends the wrong signals to the business community.

"Businesses require a clear and unambigous signal that the world is finally serious about tackling global warming," wrote John E. Wiebe.

He pointed out that clear policy signals mobilize private capital and this capital will be critically needed to re-make our economy around cleaner technology. He cited Germany, Sweden and Britain as examples where clean policy has spurred investment in clean technologies.

Drawing on that insight, what kind of signal does the waste management plan presented by Metro Vancouver staff ten days ago send to investors?

The only firm, clear commitment in Metro's waste plan is to build a huge new incinerator. They even signalled the time frame: the new incinerator will be up and running in five years. The suggests that there may be more incinerators in the years to come.

Will this mobilize capital towards opportunities in organics processing, recycling, green design? The Metro plan provides no assurance that such investments will yield returns -- especially since such facilities will be operating in competition against publicly-subsidized incineration.

Zero Waste Vancouver is preparing Plan B -- a better plan for Metro Vancouver's waste. We'll take the Globe Foundation's point and build a better plan that encourages investment in waste reduction instead of waste destruction.

Yes, we can do better.

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