Citizens Step Up As Leaders Waffle on Climate Change
At the eleventh hour, the United Nations climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, came up with an agreement that falls short of meaningful action on climate change.
While international leaders gathered in Warsaw, on November 16, 2013, Canadians rallied in over 130 communities for Defend our Climate! Defend our Communities!, a national day of action on tar sands expansion and climate change.
“From big cities to small towns across B.C. and across the country, people from all walks of life are standing together against pipelines and tankers,” says Sierra Club BC director of campaigns, Caitlyn Vernon. “We are calling on our provincial and federal leaders to heed the clear evidence from the scientific community and take action now to prevent runaway climate change.”
Take action now to tell the B.C. government that we need to act now on climate change and reject further fossil fuel expansion projects in our province.
A recent Canada 2020/Université de Montréal National Survey of Canadian Opinions on Climate Change showed that 84% of Canadians believe the federal government should take the lead on combating climate and that 71% of Canadians believe that climate change should be a top priority for the Conservative federal government.
Instead, our provincial and federal governments are promoting further fossil fuel development, representing oil and business interests and not the people they have been elected to represent.
“Our biggest concern is that governments are ignoring the most important conclusion of climate science: that we have a limited budget for carbon pollution before we hit the wall,” says Sierra Club BC climate campaigner, Jens Wieting. “Time is running out but governments are not committing to action today.”
In short, the summit, known as COP19, reconfirmed their goal to achieve a new universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015, but there was no meaningful progress on details of what this agreement should look like. A working group was established to develop a financing plan for $100 billion which industrialized countries will provide per year to developing nations to help mitigate the effects of climate change and industrial states want to finance reforestation projects worldwide.
At the summit, Canada was called out as worst climate performer in the developed world. Canada came last in the new edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), released by CAN Europe and Germanwatch and in a survey of the OECD on environmental protection, losing points for climate policy on both international and national levels. The Canadian government has been criticized for pulling out of Kyoto, for not supporting renewable energy strategies and for failing to take effective action on cutting greenhouse emissions.
Climate change is not some abstract concept for the future; it is already here. Last week’s typhoon in the Philippines is only one tragic example of increasing numbers of extreme weather events occurring around the globe.
Here in B.C., we already feel the effects of climate change. Local communities have been affected by extreme drought, floods, bark beetles, and an acidifying ocean. At the same time, B.C. is poised to become a gateway for global warming, an exit port for shipping dirty fossil fuels to overseas markets. Our Premier actively promotes LNG projects and appears to be waffling on her former rejection of the proposed Enbridge pipeline.
The good news is that, because of our extraordinary natural landscapes and abundant natural resources, British Columbia has greater opportunities to reduce emissions in the short term than other parts of the world. By moving quickly to a low-carbon economy and by conserving rainforests and seagrass beds that store carbon safely, we can not only reduce emissions but also reduce carbon in the atmosphere.