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Posts Tagged ‘350.org’

solidarity

Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.’ Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Elizabeth May, MP, on climate change action:

When a situation is as desperate as the climate crisis and yet, year after year, no leadership emerges, it is hard to believe that the situation may be changing. Like Charlie Brown running up to Lucy and a waiting football, one learns to expect disappointment. It is hard to put credence in the rhetoric of those in power.

In Canada, things are so bad that we don’t even have hypocritical lip service to the crisis. We have silence.

However, over the last month, in a series of statements by some of the most powerful people on Earth, the threat of the climate crisis seems to be on the agenda as never before.

On January 21, President Barack Obama made the issue a key portion of his second inauguration address. He made reference to superstorm Sandy, the heat waves and record-breaking extreme weather events, and said:

‘We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms…

‘We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise.’

Just days later, at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, delivered a stunning speech. (The International Monetary Fund has done nothing but worsen environmental protections anywhere in the world in which it has delivered a prescription.) Mme Lagarde, having outlined the major threats to global economic stability, stated that climate was a larger threat. Describing it as ‘the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century,’ she said: ‘Increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption; this is the real wild card in the pack.’

In response to a question from the audience, she said: ‘Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.’ That would have be a strong statement from the head of Greenpeace; from the head of the International Monetary Fund, it is jaw-dropping.

Again, within days, the new president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, wrote an opinion piece for the January 28 Washington Post, urging urgent climate action. ‘After the hottest year on record in the United States—a year in which Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, record droughts scorched farmland in the Midwest and our organization reported that the planet could become more than 7 degrees warmer—what are we waiting for? We need to get serious fast. The planet, our home, can’t wait.’

Add to this mix a very tough letter of resignation from US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, lambasting those who undermined his efforts to promote renewable energy and parting shots from outgoing Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and it is hard not to see that a full court press from the Bretton Woods Institutions has lined up behind the US president to demand climate action.

The White House will still face climate deniers and obstructionists and grid-lock in Congress. Recently, some states are considering legislation to mandate that school children be taught anti-science on the climate threat. We are, by no means, assured of action, and if we were, could it be tough enough? It would have to be comprehensive and commit to deep cuts in greenhouse gases to make a real difference. But with the appointment of John Kerry as the new Secretary of State, at least it has renewed hope that the XL Pipeline will be turned down. I will be in Washington before publication of this article to urge that the US Administration reject the pipeline and move to real climate action.

We are running out of time for action. It always seemed that Barack Obama understood the threat. For his first term, he did very little, but he did manage to ensure that the economic stimulus package was focused on green technology. When he spoke of the economic potential of clean technology and green energy in his inauguration address, he was also speaking to a reality he knows well.

For Canada, the potential of clean tech is also substantial. According to a recent report from the Pembina Institute, Canada is falling behind the rest of the world in this key sector. The report estimates that Canada has the potential to build a $60-billion clean tech sector by 2020. We need to alert Canadians to the potential for our economy of acting to reduce greenhouse gases as forcefully as we warn that failure to act could condemn us to an unliveable world.

A series of speeches calling for climate action from unlikely sources is no guarantee of action. Nevertheless, it is significant and suggests that something new is afoot.

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350-chart_0

Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We're at 387.

As the UN Climate Summit to take place in Copenhagen grows nearer, people around the world are uniting to show political leaders the we’re ready and able to deal with climate change. Saturday, October 24th is International Day of Climate Action. At 350.org, you can find the location of an event near you. If you find yourself near Ottawa, Ontario, you can join the Fill the Hill event.

Canada’s political leaders made it clear that they need to hear from Canadians who care about the future of the planet, as the Liberals joined forces with the Conservatives to vote down the Hyer Bill, Bill C-311. The bill would have allowed Canadians to go to Copenhagen with some semblance of integrity intact. Here is a news report about the lack of progress on Canada’s Climate Change Accountability Act. The news report is reproduced in part below:

OTTAWA – Liberal and Conservative MPs today joined forces to stall the only legislation addressing climate change before the House of Commons. Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, is MP Bruce Hyer’s private member’s bill that commits Canada to firm science-based greenhouse gas pollution targets. More than 40 Canadian conservation & environmental organizations including Nature Canada, the Jane Goodall Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Council of Canadians sent an open letter yesterday to all MPs urging against delay.

It is feared that without passage of C-311 before the Copenhagen global climate treaty negotiations this December, the Conservative government would be free to arrive on the world stage without a plan, and hold back a climate agreement from being reached. “Adopting this bill will not only reflect the sentiments of the majority of Canadians who are deeply concerned about climate change, it would also signal the commitment of Canada to do its part,” said Bruce Hyer, the New Democrat Deputy Environment Critic. “Today’s vote was a chance for Liberals to join the rest of the opposition to direct the government on Canada’s stance for Copenhagen. Instead, they have chosen to side with Conservatives and delay action.”

The vote comes on the heels of testimony by leading climate scientists at the Environment Committee, who voiced strong support for the Bill’s science-based greenhouse gas pollution targets and urged the passage of the Bill in advance of Copenhagen.

Canada’s “leaders” seem determined to reduce Canada to third-world status. I can understand that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is obsessed with winning the next election, no matter the cost. What I can never understand is why he doesn’t care about the world his own children will inherit.

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