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In a recent video, Catherine McKenna (Minister of the Environment and Climate Change) invites Canadians to talk about climate. “When I talk about climate change, I want to be talking about people. I want to talk about the impact climate change has on people across Canada and around the world,” says McKenna in her short video clip.

Catherine McKenna often refers to her children in her climate dialogue. And when she does, her motherly concerns are authentic and genuine. She truly wants Canada and the world to solve climate change to ensure a healthy environment for future generations. She wants what’s best for her kids as all Canadians do. As a mother, she is a true climate warrior. And as the Climate Minister, she has a major role to play in her government’s climate plan.

Why then are there such noticeable deficiencies in Canada’s climate plan and national carbon pricing policy? Is she being overshadowed by a pro-fossil fuel Prime Minister and Liberal Cabinet? She surely must find herself in the uncomfortable position of “being an apologist for the government,” said David Suzuki while campaigning for the Greens during the recent New Brunswick election campaign.

So #LetsTalkClimate, Minister McKenna

I’ve decided to accept Minister McKenna’s invitation to talk climate. But before we can talk about climate let’s just take a pause to consider the difference between hearing and listening. It’s possible to hear without listening. Hearing is a passive process. It’s biological and mechanical. On the other hand, listening is an active process which leads to interaction with others and involves the meaningful and worthwhile exchange of ideas. It involves both the brain and the heart.

And so it’s with that in mind that I wish to engage with Minister McKenna. We can do so on social media but preferably in person in her constituency office in Ottawa where I live.

Image credit: Twitter, G7 meeting in Halifax, hashtag added by Below2C 

Let’s Talk about Canada’s Paris Agreement emission-reduction targets

The current target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 is woefully inadequate. Canada and other signatories to the Agreement must set more ambitious targets in order to keep the warming of the planet below 2 degrees Celsius. The current national carbon plan calls for a $20 per tonne carbon tax starting January 1, 2019, rising to $50 per tonne by 2022. However what is needed to force a lower-carbon behaviour and lifestyle by Canadians, is a much more aggressive rate of $150-200 per tonne to be phased in before 2030. What is the government plan to ratchet up our targets?

Let’s Talk about the C$4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline

The use of public dollars to bail out a foreign oil company is simply incomprehensible. It flies in the face of all our climate goals. It’s just not possible to reduce carbon emissions and invest in pipelines and the oil sands simultaneously. It’s the great Canadian climate delusion. Why not instead invest those billions in the transition to the clean energy platform of the future?

Let’s Talk about Canada’s massive fossil fuel subsidies

Canada’s subsidies total C$3.3 billion, the equivalent of $100 for every Canadian. Why, even my 8 year-old granddaughter is donating $100 to high-profit oil companies. Canadians have the dubious distinction of being the G7 leader in handouts to Big Oil. Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned on the promise to end fossil fuel subsidies. Does our government have a timeline for the elimination of these subsidies and diverting them to clean energy?

Let’s Talk about the carbon tax relief for major polluters

Major polluters that find themselves in the “high-competitive risk” sectors — steel, cement, lime and nitrogen fertilizers — will receive rebates equal to 90% of their industry average. What this means is that these heavy emitters will have a lower carbon tax load. Should the burden, as well as the opportunities, of pricing pollution not be spread to all Canadians — individuals, businesses, corporations, institutions and governments?

Let’s Talk about Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy

Where is the national plan for establishing Canada as a leader in clean technology and renewable energy? The global energy revolution is happening with or without Canada. Rather than focusing on fossils, we should be deploying all available resources to the clean tech sector. The global energy-disrupting trends we are witnessing on a global scale are also creating vast opportunities. Right now Canada is trailing other countries and will face pressure to catch up in a wildly competitive world.

Our children and grandchildren will not work in Alberta’s oil fields. They will seek the jobs of the future wherever these are available on the planet.

Let’s Talk about Climate Truth

Canadians are ready to hear the truth about climate. Both the Prime Minister and our Climate Minister have a moral obligation to have a frank discussion with Canadians about the future impacts of a warming climate. We must face reality, as difficult as it will be.

The majority of Canadians are still mostly in the dark when it comes to the true global and national impacts of climate change. Blair Feltmate is a climate scientist at the University of Waterloo and also leads the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation. He paints a rather sobering reality of Canada’s climate future. Following are some of his observations:

  • the number of lethal high-temperature days will increase. Southern Ontario now has 20 above-30C days per year. This will increase to 60-65 days by 2040.
  • the current pattern of extremes will become commonplace.
  • there will be an increase in local flooding caused by torrential downpours and rain bombs, also known as wet microbursts.
  • droughts will become more frequent and last longer
  • there will be an increase in the number of wildfires and a lengthening of the fire season, producing a large source of emissions
  • we need to brace for waves of eco-refugees migrating by the millions.
  • there will be an increase in lost time days from work and mental health issues resulting from the threats of climate change.

“Climate change is effectively a done deal. It’s here to stay.” Blaire Feltmate

Climate Minister Catherine McKenna and I may not always agree on the best ways to solve climate change and adapt to a warming planet. But I’m certain we can agree that climate change is the most pressing issue facing Canadians and the world.

Our climate is now unstable. No Canadian alive today will ever see a stable climate again.  Our world is turning upside down as the timeline for curbing greenhouse gases is compressing. Climate change is an existential threat and we are in the race of our lives.

Trudeau’s “Not To Do” List 
Where is Canada’s Climate Leadership?

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  1. I think the whole world needs this conversation on what we are doing with oil. After watching a BBC documentary last night, ‘Drowning in Plastic,’ a stark and scary look at oceanic plastic pollution, I think we need to look at where that oil is going, as well as where it is coming from. The problem of ocean plastics and how it destroys (never mind disrupts) the ecosystem, is so large that we are staring into an abyss of impending mass extinction with death rates at 87% where plastics infected with microbes kill off reefs, choke birds and change the hormonal reproductive systems of marine animals.

    We need to address our reliance on oil by looking at our consumption and start thinking in a manner that is more ecologically sustainable. And that includes what we send to other countries to increase our export profits. Many of those countries have no way to dispose of plastics, so they wash into rivers from the banks where they are dumped.

    Our reliance on oil goes beyond our need for fuel. Oil is present in every product that has a man made fibre of some kind. We are in fact, ‘Drowning in Oil! If we don’ t do something different soon, we won’t be here to do anything at all!

  2. Thank you for your comments about the ubiquity of oil. And yet we keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.

    Yesterday’s announcement of a $40billion natural gas project in British Columbia is just mind-boggling. As you say, “If we don’ t do something different soon, we won’t be here to do anything at all!”


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