When I studied overseas, I proudly wore my Canada pin every day. Each day, without fail, I was stopped by someone who said, “Oh you’re from Canada, we love Canada!”
I would proudly beam, thinking about the country for which I longed, and gladly listen as they rhymed off why my country was important to them: Pearson – the great peace builder, the country that welcomed the world, the Montreal Protocol to reduce CFCs which threatened the ozone layer. There was no prouder Canadian!
But these are dark days for all of Canada, and indeed the world. The Conservative government has shamed my country on the international stage by pulling out of Kyoto and has abdicated responsibility to our global neighbours and to our children and grandchildren.
This government appears to have no understanding of what is at stake for Canada, or the world. Judging by their actions, it appears they have no appreciation that climate change is real; that it is happening now.
Canada has had its climate change wake-up calls with the great ice storm, the Saguenay floods and the melting Arctic. The US has experienced fourteen one-billion-dollar extreme weather events this year – more than there were in all of the 1980s. There is no grasp of the fact that the chance of keeping the average warming to the two-degrees Celsius associated with dangerous climate change, is growing slim.
Instead, we are told that meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets would cost Canadians $14 billion in carbon credits and would mean the loss of thousands of jobs, with no impact on emissions or the environment. But this is absolutely false and senior officials know this. If we reduce emissions there will be no need to buy costly offsets.
It is not a choice between a climate-change deal or continued economic development, but rather a choice of both or neither. If we do not reduce carbon emissions, the cost to our children and grandchildren down the line is estimated to be $21-43 billion annually by 2050; and the cost to the children of small-island states and the least-developed countries is economic devastation.
My Canada would not allow this to happen to our future, my Canada would lead, as it has done throughout the last century. So join with me, fight back, do not blindly accept the government’s talking points, as the government willfully ignores the science of climate change and global warming’s impacts on Canada.
Ask what a two-degree Celsius change means to Canada in terms of extreme weather events, Great Lakes water levels, human health, sea-level rise and so on. Demand to know the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions now or in the future and how the government calculates this $14 billion in penalties for pulling out of Kyoto. Astonishingly, the government can provide this figure, but is unable to provide costs for fighter jets and prisons. Ask the government to take moral and inter-generational responsibility, rather than making a cowardly withdrawal from our international obligations and encouraging other nations to follow.
I ask you this because when I next touch down overseas, I never want to be asked again, “What’s gone wrong with Canada?”, “What happened to the great peace keeper and the environmental leader?”
And when I look into my young constituents’ eyes, I want to know that I did everything in my power to fight for their Canada to ensure that they can grow up in a safe and prosperous country.
- Kirsty DuncanLiberal environment critic