From the archives: Resistance to BC’s Site C Dam Gaining Momentum #KAIROSClimateAction

DAY 26 of climate action month, resource from the archives

KAIROS is celebrating 20 years of spirited action for justice. In reflecting on KAIROS’ accomplishments, every Sunday during Climate Action Month, we have featured seminal KAIROS research and writing that continues to shape and influence our climate justice work today. This fourth Sunday in September is also World Rivers Day.  To mark this day, we honour the Peace River and invite you to read the KAIROS Policy Briefing Paper: Resistance to British Columbia’s Site C Dam Gaining Momentum from 2016.  

Five years after this paper was published and after numerous challenges to the Site C Dam’s viability, the BC government decided in February 2021 to move ahead with its construction. It might seem odd to feature this paper which showcases resistance efforts that proved unsuccessful. However, this story of resistance offers us great insight as we enter the last week of Climate Action Month and explore the theme of climate solutions.  

The Site C Dam represents a so-called solution to climate change, which upholds the status quo. While hydropower does emit less carbon than fossil fuel powered electricity – mega dams, like the Site C project, incur significant costs to human rights, health, arable land, and ecosystems. According to Guy Dauncey, “we do not need to flood precious farmland in the Peace River Valley to generate hydro power. We can get all the energy we need in an affordable manner from a portfolio of demand-side management, wind, solar and geothermal…”  Yet with other solutions on the table, the provincial government decides to move ahead with an option that would violate Indigenous rights and endanger livelihoods and ecosystems. 

These words from KAIROS BC-Yukon from March 2012, summarize the interconnectedness of this project with the climate crisis and what is at stake: 

“Windigo economics, an economics based on growth and greed, is at work here, largely driven by the fossil fuel industry. Failing to pivot yet again, our government prefers to continue building Site C Dam, more expensive now than almost any other “clean” energy source…The further diverted public funds are needed for social programs and a clean, green recovery from the pandemic. Furthermore, as temperatures rise due to global warming, there will be more forest fires and extreme weather patterns threatening our ways of life as well as the global food supply chain. Site C Dam will destroy much needed fertile agricultural land but our government is staying the course and building this Dam.”  

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Filed in: Ecological Justice

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