Environmental protection, restoration, recovery, and enhancement are critical and multi-faceted challenges. But, the most pressing issue today is climate breakdown. It is a slow moving, life and death catastrophe that is already harming us and every living being in the biosphere. We, and especially our politicians, must confront it with all the urgency necessary to overcome it. We caused it; we need to fix it. Nothing less will do than adopting a climate breakdown emergency plan. Politicians are unable or unwilling to appreciate the immediate threat and the real and direct dangers that the climate emergency poses to all Canadians.
What legacy are we leaving for our children?
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an intergovernmental body which assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests by decision makers writes:
The future impacts of climate change are projected to become more pronounced in the next decades, with variable relative effects depending on scenario and geographic region. Scenarios project mostly adverse climate change effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, which worsen, in some cases exponentially, with incremental global warming. Even for global warming of 1.5°C to 2°C, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly.
Changes in ranges can adversely affect the capacity of terrestrial protected areas to conserve species, greatly increase local species turnover and substantially increase the risk of global extinctions. For example, a synthesis of many studies estimates that the fraction of species at risk of climate-related extinction is 5 per cent at 2°C warming, rising to 16 per cent at 4.3°C warming.
Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change and are projected to decline to 10-30 per cent of former cover at 1.5°C warming and to less than 1 per cent at 2°C warming. Therefore, scenarios show that limiting global warming to well below 2°C plays a critical role in reducing adverse impacts on nature and its contributions to people.
IPBES summarizes the affects of climate change in a media release titled, “Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating”:
• 1 degree Celsius: average global temperature difference in 2017 compared to pre-industrial levels, rising +/-0.2 (+/-0.1) degrees Celsius per decade,
• >3 mm: annual average global sea level rise over the past two decades,
• 16-21 cm: rise in global average sea level since 1900,
• 100% increase since 1980 in greenhouse gas emissions, raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degree,
• 40%: rise in carbon footprint of tourism (to 4.5Gt of carbon dioxide) from 2009 to 2013,
• 8%: of total greenhouse gas emissions are from transport and food consumption related to tourism,
• 5%: estimated fraction of species at risk of extinction from 2°C warming alone, rising to 16% at 4.3°C warming,
• Even for global warming of 1.5 to 2 degrees, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly. (www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment)
Canada Can and Must Lead by Example
Canada and Canadians are among the world’s worst per-capita CO2 emitters. Our .049% of the world’s population is responsible for 1.6% of global GHG emissions. Canada cannot solve climate breakdown on its own. It’s a global plague. What Canada and Canadians can do, however—and must do—is lead by example.
Canadain a Changing Climate,a report by Environment and Climate ChangeCanada exposes the reality of global warming in Canada. Findings include:
• Increased temperatures: Temperature has increased in all regions of Canada and in the surrounding oceans. Since 1948, when nation-wide records became available, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed by a best estimate of 1.7°C, with higher temperature increases observed in the North, the Prairies, and northern British Columbia. Annual average temperature over northern Canada increased by 2.3°C since 1948. The greatest warming has occurred in winter.
• Weather extremes: In the future, a warmer climate will intensify some weather extremes. Extreme hot temperatures will become more frequent and more intense. This will increase the severity of heatwaves, and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks. While inland flooding results from multiple factors, more intense rainfalls will increase urban flood risks. It is uncertain how warmer temperatures and smaller snowpacks will combine to affect the frequency and magnitude of snowmelt-related flooding.
• Water availability: The seasonal availability of freshwater is changing, with an increased risk of water supply shortages in summer. Warmer winters and earlier snowmelt will combine to produce higher winter flows in streams and rivers, while smaller snowpacks and loss of glacier ice this century will combine to produce lower summer flows. Warmer summers will increase evaporation of surface water and contribute to reduced summer water availability in the future despite more precipitation in some places.
• Widespread effects: The effects of widespread warming are evident in many parts of Canada and are projected to intensify in the future. The rate and magnitude of climate change under high-versus low-emission scenarios project two very different futures for Canada. Scenarios with large and rapid warming illustrate the profound effects on Canadian climate of continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Scenarios with limited warming will only occur if Canada and the rest of the world reduce carbon emissions to near zero early in the second half of the century and reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases substantially.
Canada has everything necessary to take on the challenge of reducing carbon emissions. As one of the world’s wealthiest nations, it has all necessary fiscal and human resources and expertise. Few nations are better positioned to set an example and implement and showcase the many ways forward.
Why is Canada so uniquely positioned to lead on the climate breakdown issue? Canada is one of the world’s worst climate breakdown offenders. It is one of the world’s worst wasters of energy, and it is an irresponsible petro-state that puts revenue from its petroleum sector above all other considerations. It also has large animal agri-businesses, and according to the United Nations, industrial animal agriculture is one of the most significant contributor to climate change and global warming.
If Canada can make the necessary reforms to successfully defeat climate breakdown, it shows other countries they can, too. Canada can prove that a people can reform their nation and economy to function successfully without dependence on fossil fuels as a source of energy or economic activity and get as close to zero GHG emissions as is technically possible.
Canada can—and must—lead by example. That this would also reform Canada’s economy to the betterment of its citizens is welcome, but it is incidental to the real task at hand: saving our lives and civilization.
What Can We Do?
In the immediate term, the Animal Protection Party of Canada proposes:
• implementing an aggressive carbon pricing mechanism that would encourage rapid adoption of conservation measures,
• removing all tax incentives and subsidies from animal agriculture, assisting farms to transition from animal agriculture to a plant-based economy and to biocyclic vegan agriculture,
• imposing tariffs on goods from nations that do not have carbon pricing measures as aggressive as Canada’s,
• large subsidies for the adoption and development of alternative energy sources implemented through collaboration with local communities.
• end subsidies to the oil and gas sectors, and
• halt the expansion and construction of new pipelines.
Where the private sector is unable or unwilling to develop and implement alternative energy sources, the public sector would take on the task. Given the urgency of the climate breakdown issue, further development of the Alberta oil sands would be halted, current projects wound down, and land reclaimed.
Climate change is not the only environmental issue that threatens Canadians’ health and well-being, but it is the most urgent. APPC would strengthen Environment and Climate Change Canada—financially and legislatively—and charge it with accelerating in-depth reviews of all outstanding environmental issues and developing programs to rapidly and effectively address them based on best available science and best practices.
1 Sandra Diaz, et al Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, 6 May 2019 www.ipbes.net/system/tdf/spm_global_unedited_advance.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=35245
2 Canada in a Changing Climate; Government of Canada, 2019
3 From Animal Agriculture to the Plant-Based www.gfi.org/transitioning-from-animal-agriculture-to
4 Biocyclic Vegan Agriculture http://www.biocyclic-vegan.org/