Cutting our emissions is a moral obligation

by Al Goodhall

It was interesting watching two opposing forces at play in February: The United We Roll convoy and the student climate strike protests. One group being in support of fossil fuel expansion and the other diametrically opposed. But what we often ignore is the common thread they share. The fear of what the future has in store for them.

Looking at this play unfold as a driver is a balancing act. At a glance, you would think that the oil and gas sector and the trucking sector are tightly tied together.

Well they are, in terms of supply and demand. After all, I do burn a thousand liters or more of diesel fuel every week just doing my job. In this way, I support the quality of life my fellow Canadians working in oil and gas currently enjoy, and they support mine.

I have no interest in intentionally undermining that relationship. But as a driver, I have a significant impact on the amount of fuel the truck I drive burns, affecting carbon emissions, which in turn affects the quality of life of my grandchildren.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have to curb our use of fossil fuels. I don’t state that to be contentious. I see it as our responsibility to future generations. At the same time, I recognize we cannot turn off a tap.

We have built our modern society on the fossil fuel industry, but we are now well past the point of disregarding the negative effects of emissions and we must move past any belief that expansion of the industry can build a “greener” future for all.

At the same time, we will continue to depend on diesel fuel in the Canadian trucking industry for many years to come. But I believe it will be, should be, and needs to be, greatly reduced. We only need to look around to see how plans to do exactly that are underway, especially in terms of electrification of last mile delivery.

I know what it is to lose everything when the sector you’re working in simply evaporates, along with your financial security and personal aspirations. We need a transition plan for the many thousands of workers in the oil and gas sector.

I have learned in my life that the skills we develop over the course of our careers are transferable. Does that come without fear and uncertainty of what the immediate future has in store for you? Of course not. But with some additional training and the support of your fellow citizens, it can be done.

Future generations face far greater uncertainty in which only our collective effort can make a difference. This is exactly why tens of thousands of schoolchildren around the globe participate every Friday in climate strike protests rather than attend school.

The oil and gas sector, along with the transportation sector, are the top two emitters of carbon in the Canadian economy, and those emissions are growing year over year, not shrinking.

So, what is it that we are doing to support our young people in order to ensure that they have a viable future and the quality of life that they deserve? What is our plan to ensure this comes to pass? Do we have a plan? I don’t think that we do. This is the greatest failure in terms of recruiting new people to the trucking industry. We should focus on how we can change the world for future generations, not on how great we have been in the past.

As individual drivers, there’s a lot that we can do to change the world. It’s as simple as burning less fuel. That goes hand in hand with reducing costs and increasing profits. It also goes hand-in-hand with improving our safety culture through training and moral leadership. We can all win in this battle if we focus on our common needs.

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