We face a global challenge. Climate change impacts are already widespread and consequential. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, prepared by scientists from 100 countries and signed off by 195 countries, noted that climate change will seriously deepen global poverty, disease, violence and accentuate problems associated with refugees. The same report predicts that climate change will dampen the benefits of a modernizing society, such as economic growth and more efficient crop production.
Despite the catastrophic costs of inaction, Canada is part of the problem — not part of the solution. According to the Washington-based Centre For Global Development, Canada is last of the wealthiest 27 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to engage in climate change remediation. This is an embarrassment. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accord, and it still has no comprehensive federal climate change legislation. Despite years of promises and delays, sector-specific regulations are still not in place for the oil and gas industry, despite rapidly rising carbon emissions.
We believe the time has come to chart a new model and direction for Canada’s economy. We can no longer espouse an economic model that treats the natural environment and human beings as disposable goods.
As Canadians we desperately need the government to take action on climate change, pursue rapid development of renewable and clean energy, and to get serious about conservation. We need government policy and innovative financing that encourages the retrofitting of Canadian homes and buildings and to insist on energy efficiency as a model for new structures. Governments must rethink mobility by increasing public transportation, investing in high speed inter-urban rail, purchasing fuel efficient domestic cars for vehicle fleets and stopping urban sprawl.
For the good of our future we need to break from the past, by overcoming our addiction to fossil fuels, poverty and the inequalities that plague our society.
We need to build a green economy and jobs that transform the mode of production and consumption in our society. A more environmentally sustainable future can create decent paying, full-time, safe and healthy green jobs in all sectors of society. The time is ripe for change but we must act now.
Happy Earth Day!