I was very moved by Anna Lutjen-LaBelle’s letter calling for more ambitious action on climate change (MP urged to take action on climate change, Aug. 18 Observer).
Anna refers to the Aug. 9 Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases are needed during the next 10 years in order to prevent climate breakdown and widespread devastation.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the report a ‘code red for humanity’, adding that the report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.
This means no new fossil fuel pipelines (oil or gas), and a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy sources.
Some politicians argue such steps would hurt the economy. The good news is that switching to renewable energy sources is an economic opportunity that is already benefiting Canadian businesses.
For workers in the fossil fuel industry, the federal government needs to sponsor a Just Transition program that would support workers as they prepare for jobs in the clean economy. The Paris Climate Agreement includes the just transition as an essential element of climate action.
Around the world, young people like Anna are speaking out for climate action. In Ontario, seven students recently won the right to have their lawsuit heard in court. Their case argues that the province violated Ontarians’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to life, liberty and security of the person when it weakened its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in 2018.
For the first time ever, a Canadian court has ruled that fundamental rights protected under the charter can be threatened by climate change and citizens have the ability to challenge a Canadian government’s action on the climate crisis under the highest law in the land.
Students’ leadership in the fight against climate change should be an inspiration to all.