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Where do we go from here?

I belong to a group who are desperately concerned about Climate Change.

For the past two years, as individuals, we have written letters, attended protests, run for office, made deputations to council, performed and created art, analyzed climate plans, read countless books about climate change, presented findings, watched documentaries about climate change, spoken to our MPs and MPPs. We have taken direct greenhouse gas reducing action to reduce our personal carbon footprints: walked and biked more, switched to transit or worked from home, reduced consumption, turned down the thermostat, installed rain barrels, avoided flying, bought organic and/or local food and converted our lawn to victory gardens. We have also invested in Green bonds, electric vehicles, solar panels, home retrofits and air-source heat pumps.

Despite all the individual effort and angst, nothing has really changed. In fact, since 2016, other than a COVID-related downturn blip, Canada’s oil production and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Climate-change deniers aside, the answer may be to engage more people, but the solution is beyond individual action. Approximately 40% of Canada’s GHG emissions come from 1,700 mostly industrial facilities[1], the top twenty being in Alberta. The government’s notion that we can abate these emissions with large-scale carbon capture is unproven.

Without the political will to incent these companies to eliminate GHG emissions, profits will always win out.

The remaining 60% of Canada’s emissions includes approximately 12 tonnes of emissions for each Canadian, annually. Realistically, not enough people are prepared to abandon driving or spend big dollars on homes retrofits such as air source heat pumps and water heaters or solar panels. And government incentives are inadequate. With time running out, from the long list of personal actions listed above, the only direct action that will have a significant effect (in numbers of participants and GHG reduction) is the purchase an electric vehicle, which seems to have reached a tipping point with recent fuel increases. Given this reality, by 2035, we may achieve a 10% reduction in GHG emissions, but we need 50% by 2030.

Where do we go from here?

We need the political will to make these changes but that will not happen unless more voters engage in the climate problem. Conservatives are just beginning to believe that Climate Change may be a problem. Provincially in Ontario, the 2013-2018 Liberals did well but federally, the Liberals have only succeeded in sprinkling money across in a few sectors; they are lying about achieving a 40-45% reduction because they are afraid to take decisive action. The NDP are much the same, in a minority federal government the NDP had an opportunity but failed to push a Green agenda. The Green Party has the solutions but lack political influence because of strategic voting and a first-past-the-post system.

Our group’s main message must be: ”government is not going enough.” Political parties need to lose elections due to climate change inaction.

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