By Medicine Hat News Opinon on November 18, 2019.
Canadians have just been through a federal election. All the parties acknowledged and had a position on the issue of climate change, but they have very different paths to proposed “solutions.” All are woefully inadequate! Both public awareness and government action lag far behind what’s needed to avert a climate catastrophe. The fact that there is a minority government gives us a real opportunity to push for a way forward that leaves no one behind. We can create good jobs, reduce inequality and achieve climate stability at the same time.
The transformation that is needed will affect all aspects of our lives, and people are rightfully worried about what this means for themselves and their families. Rather than have these changes create economic and social divisions between people that will prevent us from moving forward, we need a solution that works for everyone. We need a solution that is rooted in climate justice, that creates over a million jobs in the process and that respects the rights of Indigenous peoples.
The Council of Canadians has joined a broad coalition of groups across the country that are supporting and building momentum for a Green New Deal (GND) in Canada, which is a transformational project that recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the scale of what’s necessary to tackle it. A proper GND will prioritize good jobs, public services, and workers’ rights, including support for just transition initiatives that expand local and national public transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, affordable housing, public health care, trade and water justice, and transformation (greening) of other public services such as the post office. Again, we can tackle inequality in our society at the same time as solving the climate crisis!
We are being told by the world’s scientists that we must quickly change course if we are to avoid disaster. Our greenhouse gas emissions must drop by half by 2030 in order to maintain a liveable planet. MPs in the U.K have been meeting since 2007 to build a GND and there has been movement towards a European GND. There are calls for a GND in the U.S. and some international organizers are demanding a global GND. Polling in Canada indicates that 61% of people support a Green New Deal – and that number jumps to 66% if it’s paid for by increasing taxes on “corporations and the wealthy.” There is a place for each of us in this movement, especially because much of the work to achieve a Green New Deal needs to be done at the community level by getting organized and educating and pressuring local, provincial and federal politicians about a way forward.
The Council of Canadians recently launched a campaign for “Green New Deal Communities.” A Green New Deal Community is one that ensures the transition we need leaves no one behind and builds a better present and future for all of us by adopting policies that include:
* Addressing science and Indigenous knowledge by implementing a plan to reduce municipal emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
* Reducing inequality by using available municipal revenue generation tools while requesting additional tools from other levels of government, which will also help pay for a local Green New Deal.
* Actively supporting the expansion of good, unionized, low carbon jobs and public services to build a greener local economy.
* Respecting Indigenous rights and treaties.
* Ensuring accessible, affordable, and safe housing, free public transit, and food security.
* Reducing corporate influence on local decision-making, particularly by developers, to enhance local democracy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts, as well as opposing privatization.
* Upholding equity, anti-racism and migrant justice in municipal policies.
* Rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure and committing to expanding local installation of renewable energy sources.
To build the necessary political pressure for federal parties and the federal government to implement a Green New Deal, we need to build as much momentum as possible everywhere we can.
For more information on the issue visit canadians.org/greennewdeal. The Council of Canadians is not affiliated with any political party.
(The writer is with the local chapter of the Council of Canadians.)