The weather this summer should cause all of us to pause and reflect on how the world will be, after our own time on this planet.
Our dependence on carbon is literally killing us – along with billions of representatives of other species. But we can choose a different path.
Canada is one of the top 10 greenhouse gas emitting countries. We’re at the very top in per capita emissions. To do our part in preventing catastrophe, by 2030 we must cut our emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels. In early July, our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, told the United Nations we are instead aiming for a 40-45 per cent reduction.
That’s not good enough.
Climate change is a human rights issue. It is a justice issue. Extreme weather kills people and destroys livelihoods, and it has disproportionate effects on vulnerable communities and in poorer countries, where people bear no responsibility for the climate crisis and have very limited resources to cope. If Canada is to be the kind, caring leader that we aspire to be, then we must change.
The good news is, we have done this before. In his brilliant and hopeful book, A Good War, Seth Klein describes how Canada achieved unprecedented economic transformation in just six years during the Second World War. The three decades that followed also saw the highest levels of income equality in Canadian history.
Klein provides a blueprint for how we can do this again. We can create a made-in-Canada Green New Deal to tackle the twin crises of climate change and inequality, while also elevating Indigenous leadership and building a more caring society. Amazingly, the technology already exists to cut our emissions by about 90 per cent! Even better, according to a 2019 poll by Abacus data, 72 per cent of Canadians support a Green New Deal – including a majority of Albertans – while only 12 per cent are opposed.
But our governments’ actions do not yet align with these statistics. So we must speak up. We must be loud. And we must be clear: Canada’s current approach to the climate emergency is not good enough.
A federal election could be called any day. We all need to tell our politicians – over and over and over again – we want transformation now!
I have felt a swell of emotions since the heat dome in late June. But now I am acting. You can, too. Write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Wilkinson. Locally, join Bow Valley Climate Action, and get informed and connect with others across Canada at the inspiring Climate Emergency Unit, www.climateemergencyunit.ca and at 350.org.
Prior to the federal government’s climate emergency declaration in 2019, the Vuntut Gwitchin council unanimously passed its own emergency declaration, entitled “After our time, how will the world be?”
Let us all ask ourselves that question. It’s time to rise to this moment, and to demand change.