This op-ed appeared at The Guardian on October 16.
Ask Canadians about the most pressing issues facing their country and, alongside concerns about the economy and healthcare, they will inevitably raise the need for action on climate change. And no wonder: British Columbia and the Prairies were in the grips of a serious drought this summer and, only weeks after our election, world leaders will head to Paris to try to come up with a serious plan to stop global warming.
Yet, encouraged by Conservative leader Stephen Harper, much of the election debate has been narrowed to focus on “wedge issues” such as cultural differences. But Canadians cannot afford to be pulled in by the politics of diversion and division.
The reason is simple: when it comes to climate change, we are simply out of time. Climate scientists have told us that this is the most critical decade to begin decisively weaning ourselves off fossil fuels if we are to have a decent shot at preventing truly catastrophic warming.
That’s why we are seeing China, India, the United States, the European Union and pretty much every major country besides Canada unveiling their most ambitious climate commitments yet.
It’s not nearly enough, but it puts our country to shame. Because when it comes to climate change, the Canadian government is doing worse than nothing—it is racing in the wrong direction.
The Harper government’s single-minded obsession with tar sands expansion will inevitably result in massive increases of greenhouse gas emissions. It gutted every major water law and aggressively promotes oil pipelines such as Energy East, which will threaten more than 1,000 waterways including the St Lawrence river.
Photograph by Chris Wattie/Reuters.