On Day 1 of 2019, I spent some quiet moments reflecting on what the New Year might bring. Like many of you I look forward to this year with optimism but also with trepidation. As a climate activist, my focus of course is on the climate. Many questions preoccupy me. Will global leaders continue to inch slowly forward on addressing the climate crisis? Or will the world make a giant leap ahead to solve this most critical existential challenge ever encountered by we humans?
Four Reasons For Climate Hope
As climate change slowly begins to dominate our lives (and it will for all us sooner rather than later), we will have to make a choice between despair and hope, between remaining passive or becoming active, feeling overwhelmed or feeling energized. Because action is the best antidote to despair, I choose hope. “Action = Hope,” wrote Cathy Orlando in a blog post upon her return from the recent COP24 climate talks in Poland.
These are some of my reasons for choosing #ClimateHope:
1. Youth Rising
I’m energized by the worldwide rise of youth in the climate movement. The voice of youth resonates loudly, and with unencumbered clarity, with politicians and world leaders. Their innocence grips adults at an emotional level, in the gut and in the heart. I see the promise of their ideas, their energy and their resilience.
Youth engagement in the climate movement is being led by Greta Thunberg of Sweden. She is fighting for a better future by staging a climate strike every Friday under the banner of #FridaysForFuture.
“You say you love your children above all else and yet, you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”@gretathunberg
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) December 28, 2018
2. Women in Politics
The recent swearing in of the 116th session of the United States Congress made history with a record number of 102 female House members and 25 female Senators. At only 29 years of age, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes the youngest women to sit in Congress.
More importantly, Ocasio-Cortez has a plan to tackle the climate crisis. She is championing The Green New Deal to lead the Democrats (now controlling the House) in developing a comprehensive and aggressive plan to address climate change in advance of the 2020 U.S. elections. This promises to give new life to American support for the Paris Agreement which President Trump cannot officially withdraw from until November 4, 2020, four years after the Agreement came into effect.
‘The existential threat of our time’: Pelosi elevates climate change on day one https://t.co/5FAngu6Jl1
— Climate Change 911 (@ClimateC911) January 4, 2019
3. Canada Is a World Leader on Carbon Pricing
In 2015, Canada began the hard work of developing a national plan to a low carbon future that includes carbon pricing as one of its main pillars. It is called the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, is a graduate of the London School of Economics and is currently the High-Level Co-Chair to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. This will help Canada position itself to capitalize on our share of the $26 trillion clean tech opportunities that will be available between now and 2030.
On December 12, in a Nature editorial, Canada’s carbon pricing policy was praised as a way of making carbon pricing more palatable to the taxpayer. “I can tell you first hand that the world has its eyes on Canada’s carbon pricing policy,” says Cathy Orlando, International Outreach Manager for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Although Canada is one of the first countries in the world to adopt a national carbon pricing policy, our climate targets lack sufficient ambition to meet the emissions targets set in the Paris Agreement. Canada currently has highly insufficient climate commitments. And, we have the highest GHG footprint per capita in the G20.
4. My Grandchildren
I have four grandkids — two girls and two boys — ranging in age from 9 to 13 years old. They are aware of the importance of solving the climate crisis. The oldest is Elliott. He thinks about his future, a lot. He’s preparing to strike for climate in Ottawa on Parliament Hill on Friday, January 11, alongside thousands of students also on #ClimateStrikes and #FridaysForFuture events around the world. Youths will strike for climate in cities across Canada — Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, London, Sudbury, Victoria, Vancouver, Fredericton, Perth.
As Greta said, “We have had 30 years of pep talking….Yes, we do need hope, of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action.”
Once we start to act, hope is everywhere ~ Greta Thunberg