Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. Our global temperature is rising as we continue to emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. Our planet’s resources are being overexploited and depleted. Our wildlife is dying, and our ecosystem is being polluted. Over the course of a couple of centuries, human activity has caused irreparable damages to our planet, and it will continue to get worse if society doesn’t act to change its ways.
Governments around the world are being called to join the fight against climate change – to enact bold measures that curb greenhouse gases, reduce pollution, protect our wildlife and oceans, and ensure a sustainable use of our resources.
However, our political class has largely given lackluster response to this crisis. Their inaction in this situation is the reason why our society is failing at the fight against climate change. Their passiveness is dooming our planet and all its inhabitants to a grim fate.
Some governments, rather than acknowledge the problem, are denying it. One of the world’s most powerful figures, US President Donald Trump has openly stated that climate change is a hoax. In 2017, he announced that he was pulling the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global agreement signed by almost 200 countries to reduce greenhouse emissions.
The current Canadian government lead by Justin Trudeau had promised to be a leader in the climate change fight. While they have enacted some green measures such as attempting to tighten some environmental regulations and implement their key green policy, the carbon pricing scheme, for many environmental activists, the Trudeau government didn’t live up to expectations.
Most notably, the Liberals refused to address the issue of Canada’s largest causes of pollution, our oil sands in Western Canada. Rather than reduce fossil fuel development, the Canadian government is encouraging it, by investing millions of dollars into the industry, and even buying the 4.5 billion-dollar Trans Mountain pipeline.
And worst of all, Trudeau’s squeamish green measures have been met by fierce opposition by Canada’s conservative political class. Several conservative provincial Premiers have launched court challenges against Trudeau’s carbon pricing. Ontario Premier Doug Ford cancelled his province’s Cap and Trade program upon his election, and Alberta’s newly-elected Premier, Jason Kenney, has vowed to repeal his province’s carbon tax and remove environmental regulation on fossil fuel development, while at the same time promising to launch an aggressive attack on environmental activists!
While Québec’s Premier François Legault has passively accepted climate change to be a problem, many expect his government not to pursue any tough actions on it.
And all of this happens in the background of a nearing federal election this fall, where our worst expectations could be met. Canada’s official opposition, the Conservative Party lead by Andrew Scheer, has also come out swinging against the carbon tax and tougher regulations on pipelines and oil tankers. Scheer has promised to repeal the carbon tax and create more pipelines if he is brought to power in October.
All current opinion polls give Scheer the lead over Trudeau’s Liberals. While there is still five months to go before the federal election, and much can change between now and then, we can expect the discourse around the fight against climate change not to get any better. We’ll either have a very squeamish “environmentalism” from Trudeau or none at all from Scheer.
While national level of governments keeps failing our planet, a small revolution is occurring at much local level. Cities are the leading the charge against climate change. While it might not feel consequential for change to occur at such a small scale, it is important to remember these concrete jungles are at the center of our environmental destruction. A change in the way we imagine our cities might pave the way for much larger change.
We can take the example of Paris, which is leading the way in cities fighting climate change. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has enacted several measures to restrict the circulation of cars in the city, while also expanding access to public transit and create more green spaces in order to reduce air pollution and gas emissions from one of Europe’s largest cities.
Another city administration promising to take a tough stance in the climate fight is our very own in Montréal. Under the leadership of mayor Valérie Plante, the city is looking to move forward with a green shift. In order to promote more sustainable modes of transportation, the Plante administration has promised to invest in public transit and increasing green spaces and bike paths around the city.
The mayor even created a new position on the city’s executive committee responsible for ecological transition and resilience to address the urgency of climate change and named city councillor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde to take on the charge. Many measures are expected to be announced in order to endorse Montréal’s ecological transition.
While one government after the other continues to disappoint, not all hope is lost. Most notably, we’re seeing the youth take on this era’s largest threat. In March, we saw millions of youth activists take on to the streets in cities around the world calling for more climate change action from our political leaders. They might be able to ignore us for now, but the future belongs to the younger generations, and the power is for ours to take.
Written by: Mohammad-Afaaq Mansoor