On Thursday, July 29 more than 50 Cowichan Valley residents gathered at MP Alistair MacGregor’s Duncan constituency office as part of a Canada-wide climate emergency action at federal MP’s offices.
The Duncan action was organized by the emerging local Cowichan Climate Hub — a collaboration of social justice and environmental groups, faith groups, farmers, small businesses, schools, labour groups and others concerned about the climate emergency. We aim to raise community awareness about the climate crisis and engage in constructive conversations to achieve solutions-focused climate action.
With recurring extreme heat, tragic loss of life, and ongoing devastating wildfires across our province, concerned citizens told MacGregor, “We’re in a climate emergency,” asking him to pledge to push hard on our federal government to step up and meet that emergency.
As MP and Agriculture critic, he’s already at work on climate solutions like regenerative agriculture and a soil conservation bill. He’s also proposed changes to the terms of reference for Canadian Pension Plan investments to include ethical screens that would disallow fossil fuels investments.
There’s a harrowing gap between what the science says is required and the policy and budgetary commitments we’ve seen from the federal government. Policy analyst and author Seth Klein identifies four markers that show “a government has shifted into emergency mode”. We’re nowhere close. We must:
1. Spend what it takes to win — former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern says that’s two per cent of GDP per year. For Canada that’s $50 billion per year. Currently we’ve committed only $2 billion per year.
2. Create new economic institutions to get the job done — private for-profit industry isn’t moving fast enough to transform our economy. An inventory of our conversion needs to end our reliance on fossil fuels and new Crown corporations to do it are needed.
3. Shift from voluntary and incentive-based policies to mandatory measures — the pandemic showed us our government can act in an emergency, shutting down non-essential parts of the economy as needed and financially supporting affected Canadians. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions aren’t going down. To avert climate breakdown, we need binding requirements and clear, near-term dates to reach them, including stopping fossil fuel subsidies and building new fossil fuel infrastructure, and investment in a rapid and just transition; ending sales of new fossil fuel-burning vehicles by 2025 and requiring all new buildings be fossil-fuel-free next year; and protecting all our remaining old growth as long-term carbon storage as well as essential watershed and biodiversity protection.
4. Tell the truth about the severity of the climate crisis with a sense of urgency about the measures needed to combat it. As in the pandemic, Canadians need daily government press briefings and to hear regularly from climate scientists and public health officials on climate impacts and needed actions.
Our MP listened to our concerns, answered our questions, and shared his current climate-related work, especially why it matters to him as a dad. He not only signed the climate pledge, he even added a third bullet to it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic federal action, from a collaborative minority parliament, showed us that Canada can mobilize to address an emergency. That’s what we need now. The current government has the confidence of the House and has been working across party lines. We don’t need an election. We need government to govern as if we are in a climate emergency, because we are.
Adrienne Brown, Chemainus Climate Solutions
David Slade, Socially Responsible Investing Cowichan
Ellen Robson, For Our Kids – Cowichan Valley
Jane Kilthei, One Cowichan
Sandy McPherson, Transition Cowichan
Stephanie Lindstrom, Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians
On behalf of the Cowichan Climate Hub, Cowichan@ClimateHub.ca