As a Canadian working in India, I have gained a new awareness of the mind-blowing vulnerability of millions of people living in the developing world. As a result of climate change, people here are going to straight up die. All of us who emit an unsustainable amount of greenhouse gases are responsible for this.
Before I further delineate this bleak situation and provide potential solutions to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada please note the following: I am not writing this blog from the position of an eco-saint. I take personal responsibility for my contribution to this devastating situation. I flew to India just to be able to send this message and my current carbon footprint is far from sustainable. We are in this fight together.
Indeed, this past summer I have lived mostly in air-conditioned rooms to survive New Delhi’s sweltering 35-45 degree weather. All the while, the poor who cannot afford artificially cooled dwellings are working and living in the heat. Even if it gets a little bit hotter, millions of people living in poverty, who cannot afford to escape the climate, will die. Sea level rise will lead to climate refugees. Any sort of drought or changes in weather patterns impacting agriculture in India will lead to starvation. Water scarcity will lead to people dying of thirst. The people most severely impacted by climate change have contributed the least to our emerging climate crisis.
Canadian’s on the other hand, are some of the world’s worst emitters. More specifically, we are the world’s 8th largest greenhouse gas contributor. We are also ranked last among G8 nations in our climate change mitigation efforts.
Fortunately, there are many ways that all Canadians can mitigate their impact on this global catastrophe in both public and private realms.
Personal Lifestyle Changes:
All the decisions that we make in a day about what to eat, where to go, how to get there, what kind of housing to live in, what products to consume, how to vote, how to invest, have a more greenhouse gas intensive option and a less greenhouse gas intensive option. We should all be choosing the less greenhouse gas intensive option.
While this might seem incredibly overwhelming, take heart, David Suzuki is here for us.
The David Suzuki Foundation has very clearly laid out simple things that every household can do to curb climate change. Please see this link for this simple green lifestyle guide.
Public Policy Changes:
Canadian governments have an impact on climate policy at the international, national, provincial and municipal level. It is up to all Canadians to elect and support leadership, at every level of government, committed to taking real action on climate change. We need to be an informed and engaged citizenry. If you are unhappy with your representative’s commitment to the environment, talk to them, write letters, get involved with a party, live and breathe green democracy.
This is especially important leading up to the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, taking place this coming December. In the past, the Conservative Party of Canada has sent representatives specifically to block hard, legally binding emissions reduction targets, and has worked to dilute any concrete action agreed upon by the international community. The Canadian federal government has failed the world at international climate negotiations.
For action items needed by Canada at COP 15 see the Pembina Institute Fact Sheet.
As a further direction around public policy, note that choosing green solutions can often be more expensive and therefore not all Canadians have an equal opportunity to live sustainably. It is therefore imperative that government account for the disproportionately negative impact that green prices have on low income people when developing climate change policy.
As a person of relative privilege, I am geared up to come home in September and do everything I can to green my already semi-green lifestyle (while not endangering my mental and physical health). I know it will be difficult, I am a really busy person just like everyone else. I have a job, I volunteer, I’m a student, I don’t have a lot of extra finances and my family is spread out across 3 provinces.
However, now I have new perspective with which to discipline my choices and actions and I am happy to share it with my fellow Canadians. When altering the way we live and the way we vote starts to seem really inconvenient and burdensome remember to ask yourself the following: “Is this going to kill me?” If the answer is no, please follow that question up by remembering this: if we don’t reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it will kill someone else.
Posted By Jackie K. (India)
Posted Aug 27th, 2009