This is a pivotal time in modern history.
The carbon dioxide concentration is north of 415 parts per million, far above the recommended level to avoid climatic disruption. Greens will make every effort to practically address our climate challenge by working with other parties to do so. Mission Possible of the Green Party of Canada is an excellent made-in-Canada proposal.
Fiscal responsibility is a key concern of mine and it is important to reduce deficits and to reduce the debt burden on future generations. Their struggle to adapt to climatic extremes will already be enough of a challenge; they don’t need big debts too. However, they do need jobs, jobs that persist, in the new clean technology economy.
Small businesses create over 70% of private sector employment in Canada. They create good, stable jobs. They offer competitive wages and benefits. And, because they’re small, they are flexible and nimble in adapting to changing global markets.
In NS, a Mik’maq residential school survivor exhorted me and other settlers, to not walk behind, nor ahead, but beside her, as we reconcile. In the spirit of this invitation, I am pleased to say that I am being guided by an indigenous advisory council.
I also honour a message from an indigenous grandmother. “I am an employee of Mother Earth. Our ancestors knew we were coming and didn’t take too much, so we could live too. It is time to wake up.”
In 2017, Rockstrom and his research colleagues told us we need to cut human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in half in the next decade, and by half again in the decade after that. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed. Then, the World Wildlife Fund released the shocking news that wildlife populations had declined by over 60% in just over 40 years. The Green Party of Canada and international affiliates have long been developing policies to pragmatically address these issues.
Encouragingly, an Abacus poll in April showed that 78% of Canadians support a federal program for Indigenous-protected areas that conserve lands and wildlife. In addition, 94% agree that it is a good idea to protect and conserve more of Canada’s boreal region. This speaks to our Canadian identity.
We live interdependently with each other and with other creatures. Future generations are counting on us to restore Planet Earth to working order. Elizabeth May said it well: “Our goal is to make sure the planet and our communities survive and thrive.”
The 20th century economy seemed to be a reasonable way to develop jobs and prosperity, then. Now, ⅕ of the way into the 21st century, we are understanding that we need a new economy with new jobs — jobs that will have a better chance of persisting.
Our task as Greens is to help others see that reducing GHGs, reducing wasted food and reducing pollution is good for us and for business. Furthermore, we can build a vibrant economy and pay our way as we go without burdening the next generations with debt. We owe it to them to conserve cash, conserve communities and conserve nature so they still have economic capacity.
The health of our environment is also about fostering our own health. Our health is, as the World Health Organization defines it, “a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” Prevention will save money and reduce suffering. We need a health policy that goes beyond a reaction-to-sickness policy.
In May, the town of Halton Hills unanimously passed a climate emergency resolution with a goal of net zero GHG emissions by 2030. They will also retrofit buildings and move to a fleet of electric vehicles for the town. Similarly, Finland just announced that they have a target of national net zero emissions by 2035, while also increasing employment.
In contrast to Halton Hills and Finland, our federal governments, under both Conservatives and Liberals, have had a tepid target of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) by only 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. To show the way in Canada, the Green Party ‘Mission: Possible’ is targeting 60% GHG reductions across Canada (including reductions in the oil sands) below 2005 levels, by 2030, with a net zero emission national target by 2050. This is within the guidelines of Rockstrom and his colleagues and the IPCC, this is pragmatic and possible, and this is an opportunity to create many more jobs with retrofits of buildings and new clean technology.
Ten policy options to advance a Green Agenda
- Good Governance
Green MPs: will place the interests of our constituents and of Canada above those of our party and will vote based on feedback from our ridings; will work across party lines in the public interest; will be transparent.
2. Smart Economy
A smart economy: produces more goods and creates more jobs; is resilient, diversified, less vulnerable to global shifts; improves productivity and enriches localized value chains; invests in a National Clean Tech/Energy program to remain price competitive and sanction-free; invests more in long-term education and re-training and conserves natural resources.
3. New GHG Targets and Carbon Pricing
Establish a new target and file it as Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: 60 per cent GHG reductions against 2005 levels by 2030; zero emissions by 2050. Revenue neutrality will be achieved through carbon fee and dividends and subsidies to fossil fuels will be eliminated.
Health is “a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Green MPs will: provide funds immediately to train more doctors and nurses; improve our existing chronic care system; establish a national Pharmacare program; promote better health through prevention and active lifestyles.
5. Indigenous Peoples
Green MPs will: immediately implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); honour Canada’s fiduciary responsibility, treaty rights, and other rights of Aboriginal peoples, including their inherent rights of self-government; repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery; support health and education, on and off reserve.
6. National Building Retrofits
Retrofit every building in Canada to be carbon neutral by 2030, thus creating millions of new, well-paying jobs in the trades, while reducing heating costs and reducing GHG emissions.
7. Prioritize Adaptation
Invest significant resources in adaptation measures to protect Canadian resource sectors such as agriculture, fishing and forestry from the ravages of climate change. Review all infrastructure investments for adaptation to climate change. Map flood plains, tornado corridors and other areas of natural vulnerability and adjust land use plans accordingly.
8. Green the Grid
By 2030: remove all fossil fuel generation from our national east-west electricity grid; rebuild and revamp the east-west electricity grid to ensure that renewable energy can be transmitted from one province to another.
9. Local Action
Engage every municipality and community organization, schools and universities to plant trees, install solar panels, heat pumps and assist in retrofitting buildings to maximize energy efficiency. Incentivize carbon sequestration in farming and forestry.
10. Guaranteed Liveable Income (GLI)
The use of a GLI could eliminate poverty and allow social services to concentrate on problems of mental health and addiction. A GLI will help us adjust to automation, and a shift to a 21st century, Green Economy. The use of a GLI could eliminate poverty and allow social services to concentrate on problems of mental health and addiction. A GLI will help us adjust to automation, and a shift to a 21st century, Green Economy.