Former British Columbia premier John Horgan has decided to trade his climate champion cape for a coal miner’s helmet.
Yes, the recently retired politician is hopping aboard the coal industry train. Specifically, he’s joining the board of Elk Valley Resources, which is currently being spun off from Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd.
One might wonder, why would someone who had grand ambitions for climate action suddenly join a coal business immediately after leaving politics?
Horgan, who once held the title of B.C. New Democrats’ mining and energy critic, seems to have no qualms about this eyebrow-raising career move. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, he said, “I’ve got other things that I am going to be working on that may be more to the taste of those who would kick up some dust, but the people that are kicking up dust, oftentimes, kick it up for the sake of kicking it up.”
A rather dismissive response, don’t you think?
At 64, Horgan appears ready to leave his public life behind, saying he no longer has time for “public comment on my world view, or what I am doing with my time.” While he may not want to be “snippy” about it, it does seem like a peculiar move for a former climate champion.
But wait, there’s more!
Horgan acknowledges there may be a “knee-jerk” reaction to his newfound coal love, but insists there’s a difference between coal used for electricity and coal used for metallurgy. Sure, there are better ways to generate electricity, but Horgan claims there aren’t yet better ways to make steel.
Sweden and the European Union disagree. They have invested €143 million in a steel plant that replaces coal with electricity and hydrogen in a process that will produce steel and water as opposed to steel and carbon dioxide.
So, is Hogan making a legitimate argument, or just an attempt to justify his jumping on what we presume to be lucrative coal (gravy) train?
In his new role, Horgan aims to ensure the company meets its obligations to workers, First Nations, the environment, and shareholders.
But one can’t help but wonder, is this really the best path for a former premier who once had aspirations of tackling climate change?
At 64, having endured several cancer treatments, Horgan maintains that his health is good, and he’s eager to learn in a new setting. But a coal mining business is a curious setting for a climate-conscious individual to seek personal growth.
In the end, only time will tell if Horgan’s move to the coal industry aligns with his previous climate commitments, or if it’s a step in the wrong direction.
For now, though, it’s hard not to be skeptical about this curious career choice.