Australia is burning. California’s been burning. British Columbia’s been burning. Portugal’s been burning. This summer, the Arctic broke records for wildfires in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. In the Arctic! We’ve seen storms more volatile and ferocious than ever before, bringing destructive flooding. Massive glaciers and ice sheets melting at unheard of rates. Threat of coastal flooding of epic proportions. Island nations fearful of being swallowed up by rising seas in the foreseeable future. What could possibly be more important to every country and every political leader than addressing climate change?
You got it, money. Not the money needed to make radical changes. Not the money needed to support innovation in developing new sustainable energy sources. Not the money needed to incentivize people to embrace new technologies free of fossil fuels. No, it’s all that money flowing from fossil fuel-based industries that decision makers are loath to give up. It’s all in place. It’s already there with their lobbyists. It’s already there with the “experts” paid to dispute the role of burning fossil fuel and cutting down our forests in climate change. “But it’s about protecting people’s jobs.” Yes, there are lots of jobs at stake, but part of a solution is investing in new jobs for a new economy. These changes towards a sustainable – fossil-fuel free – future can come now or they can come after far more devastation has been wrought on our planet by the onslaught of man-made climate change.
We all know that every single country on the planet except the United States has signed on to the climate change accord. Every single one. Even those in the middle of civil wars. So, with one outlier – albeit a big one – the world agrees that this is an issue. However, some countries are taking their commitment to the accord they signed a lot more seriously than others. As a citizen of the planet, I am distressed. As a proud citizen of Canada, I am alarmed by our absence on the current report card from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), headquartered in the UK.
Sure, there are others missing, including the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses by far, the U.S. and China, not to mention Australia and the oil-producing countries of the Middle East, despite having signed onto the Paris Climate Accord. We all know the world continues to disappoint, but it hurts me even more when it’s Canada! Why isn’t Canada included in this report card??!
The good news is that many states and cities within all the countries slow off the mark (aka lacking the courage to make truly tough decisions in the face of the money and power of the fossil fuel industries) have come forward with their own standards for reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. They include two of the states in Australia where bushfires currently rage, New South Wales and Victoria, as well as their state of Queensland, California, New York, and Hawaii in the U.S., and several large cities in the U.S., the UK, Europe, Australia, Iceland, and beyond. This tells us that many people do understand the urgency of the climate change crisis.
The sobering news is that the overwhelming majority of the world’s economies have yet to even reach the “Target under discussion” level of the ECIU report card. And time is running out.
I encourage all of you to do your part in saving the planet we know, for our kids, our grandkids, and beyond. This planet that we have taken for granted needs our help, badly. Yes, we can all do our part as individuals, and there are many great blog posts with worthwhile suggestions, including 50 things you can do to help the environment and 24 acts on climate change. However, our governments need to be leading the charge, along with our industries; they simply do not have the luxury of thinking they can somehow keep going with a fossil-fuel based economy. They can’t. And we can’t let them. Please reach out to every influencer you know to give them the message that they must take meaningful action on climate change. It’s the only planet we‘ve got.
Image credits: Friends of Odell Facebook page, eciu.net, designactionforscience.org