Climate Change Central, more recently known as C3, was created by the Alberta government back in 2000. A mix of public-private ownership, the not-for-profit organization’s mission statement declared its purpose to “encourage Albertans to take action on climate change through consumer rebate programs, demonstration projects and outreach.”
More tangibly, it ran some 23 environmental projects and programs in the province: most notably the carbon offset and energy efficiency rebate programs, but also everything from weatherizing seniors homes to pushing taxi-services in the province to use hybrid vehicles.
This is all being written in past tense for a reason: on Monday, C3 announced it was shuttering its doors. The reason is, predictably, money: back in 2009, the government decided that C3 should become an unfunded social enterprise, and without giving it adequate time to transition into a new working model, cut its funding. It staggered on for five years, but now it’s proven unsustainable on its own.
Aside from the obvious loss of an organization dedicated to outreach and working towards resolving some of our more egregious environmental issues—C3′s closure marks another step down the path of deregulation, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Climate change policy is being reviewed and explored in the country, by government and oil company alike. The idea of an increased carbon tax is being floated around, as well as new innovations, like carbon recycling techniques, being seen as increasingly viable. There’s even now the existence of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), a strange-bedfellow combination of 13 fossil fuel companies, partnering to explore new innovations in cleaner energy.
But innovation alone isn’t enough. That progress still needs to be vetted and watchdogged (and championed) by an independent body. And if our government doesn’t see fit to help fund an organization devoted to reduction, who’s to say if these programs will ultimately help or hinder our environment? Those doing the biggest polluting?