Finally, spring has arrived in its full glory, but it is masking a harsh underlying reality of the continuing global climate emergency.
Consider last month:
- An ongoing and record-breaking heat wave in India and Pakistan is closing schools, damaging crops and putting pressure on energy supplies. Its early spring appearance is unexpected and it is testing the limits of human survivability. Temperatures are approaching 50 C.
- An unprecedented 351 mm of rain fell on Durban (South Africa’s third-largest city) on April 11. This rain bomb resulted in more than 300 deaths and mass evacuations. Extreme rainfall events are becoming more frequent, prolonged and intense and they are happening globally.
- The April 4 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. “We are on the fast track to climate disaster,” warns the UN secretary-general. A few days later, more than 1,000 scientists worldwide reacted by chaining themselves to the doors of oil-friendly banks, blocking bridges and occupying government buildings.
- In the next 50 years, scientists predict at least 15,000 climate-warming instances of viruses leaping species. This will lead to a devastating global spread of disease. COVID-19 is only a beginning.
- Our political leaders’ egregiously inadequate response to the climate emergency continues. While this applies to all levels of government, we will look here at the Ontario government and the upcoming election. The actions of our current provincial government both ignore and make worse our climate emergency. Consider the following partial list of climate-threatening measures:
The Progressive Conservative election platform fails to mention any planned emission cuts. Instead, they are committing billions of public dollars for climate-wrecking mining and sprawl-inducing megahighway projects.
- Cancelled the cap-and-trade program. It was in place for three years and collected $2 billion annually from large carbon emitters for climate projects.
- Cancelled 758 green energy projects (e.g., solar rooftops on public buildings).
- Weakened the provincial building code.
- Dismantled the regulatory framework governing water pollution and repealed toxic use legislation.
- Pushed for a massive expansion of carbon-emitting natural (fossil) gas power plants instead of focusing on carbon-neutral renewables. This will increase electricity GHG emissions by 40 per cent.
- Eliminated the independent position of environmental commissioner.
- Gutted the power of conservation authorities to protect us from flooding, one of the most common aspects of climate change to impact Ontario.
- Issued more than 50 minister’s zoning orders (MZOs). This reveals a wanton disregard for democratic processes. It sidesteps public consultation and overrides policies protecting natural spaces and farmland.
- Weakened protections for natural spaces and endangered species in favour of resource development.
- Initiated and lost a battle on federal carbon pricing in the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Removed electric vehicle chargers at GO stations.
- Cancelled the 50 million trees planting programs.
- The government has hired a known climate denier to assist it in the climate change court challenge brought about by seven Ontario teens.
- While the government has introduced emission performance standards for industry, the rules are loose and their caps flexible: it will have a negligible positive impact.
There is no more pressing issue than the global climate emergency. The window for effective and far-reaching action is rapidly closing. If you wish to be actively engaged in “the future you choose,” you must vote for a party that takes this issue seriously. You must also speak up and motivate others to vote. This is Ontario’s most important election ever.
Grant Linney lives in Dundas. The Future We Choose series of articles are archived at: loveyourmother.ca