The latest reports from the UN’s expert panel on climate change have been sounding the alarm over the atmospheric changes caused by our continued use of fossil fuels. The shift away from dirty sources of energy such as oil and gas to carbon-free sources like wind, solar and geothermal is inevitable: we simply have no choice.

Unfortunately, that message is not sinking in with many of our political leaders here in the Pacific Northwest, many of whom are eager to support new fossil fuel infrastructure.

In Canada, there has been a steady erosion of the public’s ability to participate in the regulatory processes which govern whether or not these projects proceed. We are told that this is necessary to reduce “red tape”, when the truth is that powerful interests are determined not to let us get in the way of Big Oil, Gas and Coal. As for climate leadership, many of our politicians are happy to make grand statements on clean energy and climate, while at the same time issuing permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure.

If all the fossil fuel export projects planned for the Salish Sea go ahead, the region will be responsible for hundreds of millions of extra tonnes of climate-changing emissions being pumped into the atmosphere every year. Each one of these projects is a decision point in the battle to stop catastrophic climate change. Instead of locking ourselves into long-term investments in polluting, boom-and-bust fossil fuel extraction, we should lead the way in transitioning to a sustainable, secure low-carbon future.

We have to make climate leadership a reality in the Pacific Northwest by demanding it from our political leaders. Everyday folks do not want their legacy to be inaction on climate change for the next generation of West Coasters. We are waking up to the fact that the fossil fuel industry has an overbearing influence on key decision-makers, and our voices are being drowned out by lobbyists. The Salish Sea is where we will draw a clear line in the sand, and send a clear message to our political leaders: take climate action seriously!