Who cares about Hot­house Earth? Not the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - BILL HEN­DER­SON [email protected]­ficfringe.net

If you are se­ri­ous about cli­mate change, if you walk with the kids and want real ac­tion, how should you vote this fed­eral elec­tion?

Both of Canada’s ma­jor par­ties, one of which will form Canada’s next gov­ern­ment, have cli­mate poli­cies and plan­ning in their plat­forms that are plans to fail.

Both the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives have plans that won’t even reach the old, too-low-by-half Harper-era emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­get of 30 per cent by 2030. Who cares about Hot­house Earth?

Af­ter at least three decades of failed mit­i­ga­tion at­tempts, nei­ther will even con­sider poli­cies that might neg­a­tively af­fect the present econ­omy. Even though the IPCC has been clear that “trans­for­ma­tive sys­temic change” is needed, nei­ther the Lib­er­als nor Con­ser­va­tives will even con­sider poli­cies that could re­duce emis­sions ef­fec­tively.

Both par­ties’ lead­er­ship and most of their can­di­dates rec­og­nize that cli­mate change is real, hap­pen­ing, is hu­man caused, and could be cat­a­strophic, and agree that emis­sions must be re­duced in ac­cord with the cli­mate sci­ence. But both still af­firm ide­o­log­i­cally that main­tain­ing eco­nomic growth and sta­bil­ity is paramount. And there­fore cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion must be shoe­horned into eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal busi­ness as usual.

As Cana­dian cli­mate sci­en­tist Da­mon Matthews ex­plains: “We haven’t even started to talk about what might be ‘pos­si­ble’ and are still mostly ar­gu­ing about what is ‘fea­si­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing eco­nomic growth.’ These are, of course, ex­tremely dif­fer­ent things, and the lat­ter will not get us any­where near the 1.5 de­grees C tar­get.”

Cli­mate is now an emer­gency. The Lib­eral and Con­ser­va­tive plans don’t do nearly enough and just waste pre­cious time. Nei­ther party will even con­sider our ob­vi­ous obli­ga­tion as world’s fourth-largest pro­ducer of fos­sil fu­els to start to wind down pro­duc­tion. Both still claim that we can cut emis­sions even as we grow the oil­sands and LNG. A vote for ei­ther is a vote for wors­en­ing cli­mate change, pos­si­ble col­lapse, even ex­tinc­tion.

Con­versely, both the NDP and Green Party have cli­mate poli­cies that could be game chang­ers:

The NDP is ad­vo­cat­ing a Green New Deal where gov­ern­ment would ini­ti­ate a ‘big gov­ern­ment plan’ to fa­cil­i­tate and fi­nance a much faster build-out of re­new­ables while re­mov­ing sub­si­dies to fos­sil fu­els and re­strict­ing new fos­sil fuel in­fra­struc­ture. This is a huge step for­ward that does rec­og­nize that cli­mate is now an emer­gency re­quir­ing much more than just flexregs or puny in­ef­fec­tual car­bon taxes or neb­u­lous in­no­va­tion.

The Greens prom­ise to work for an emer­gency wartime-style coali­tion cabi­net — a coali­tion gov­ern­ment to over­come di­vi­sion so that a bi­par­ti­san level of agree­ment about the de­gree of cli­mate dan­ger and what mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies are needed be­comes pos­si­ble along with the gov­ern­men­tal power to im­ple­ment these strate­gies even within re­gions of the coun­try where fos­sil fuel pro­duc­tion is cen­tral to the econ­omy. There can’t be ef­fec­tive cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion with­out such bi­par­ti­san co-op­er­a­tion.

Nei­ther party can win this elec­tion, but ei­ther or both might be an in­flu­en­tial part­ner in a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment where their game-chang­ing poli­cies could be im­ple­mented.

So if you are se­ri­ous about cli­mate, how do you vote? You vote for the NDP or Green can­di­date that has the best chance of win­ning in your rid­ing — and you not only vote but maybe even work for that can­di­date and try and get all your friends to vote for cli­mate, too.

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