Alberta’s Christians Must Act on Climate Change

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The federal government held a very important meeting on March 2 and 3.  

In December 2015 Prime Minister Trudeau and the Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, attended the international climate negotiations in Paris. These talks resulted in “The Paris Agreement,” where Canada endorsed a 1.5°C limit on global warming, and promised to meet with premiers to develop a pan-Canadian climate change plan.

Now the government needs to commit to an ambitious emissions reduction target that clearly establishes the federal leadership role and defines expectations for real action. On April 22, nations can officially sign on to The Paris Agreement, and Canada can come to the table as a leader – or once again a laggard - on climate action.

Watching the climate talks in Paris unfold, I find myself now, in the weeks that follow, reflecting on what my role in my government’s commitments might look like. 

I feel overwhelmed at times on how I might work out these commitments in my life and my family's. After the Paris Agreement, I know that I need to make hard choices: from what I buy at the grocery store; to choosing to bike or walk rather than hop in the car; to reducing my consumption. 

Although these choices are often difficult and sometimes inconvenient, I remind myself that I make them for the world today, and not just for a far off world of tomorrow or the world of my grandchildren. Our world is impacted right now by the changes in our climate. As a member of Westend Christian Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alberta, my church calls me to pay particular attention to the moral implications of my choices. I struggle because my husband works in the oil and gas extraction industry. – The food in my pantry comes from agricultural industry known for high carbon emissions. My children have a warm house in Alberta’s cold winters because of my husband’s paychecks from an industry that causes 25% of Alberta’s carbon pollution. These are the contradictions and compromises that fill our lives. I struggle with these every day, like so many neighbors.

In September 2015, 65 leaders of Canadian faith communities issued a statement “On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada." Faith communities (my Christian Reformed community included) want their federal government to establish more stringent greenhouse gas emission targets by including a price on carbon, promoting a renewable energy policy and job creation in this sector, ending subsidies to fossil fuel industries, and providing more adaptation and mitigation assistance to the poorest countries most affected already by climate disruptions.

As I think about my role in all of this, I also am overwhelmed by the breadth of the work that must be done. Yet, a phrase we often use in our church when discussing monetary gifts is “You add. God multiplies.” When all of us make small changes, which seem insignificant to each individual, God will make them significant. 

I've been pleased to see that our Alberta Government has made some notable commitments to reducing our province's contribution to climate change. They've promised that all coal-generated pollution will be phased out by 2030—only 15 years from now. The government will also be implementing carbon pricing to provide an incentive for everyone to reduce our emissions. This is basically a user fee for all carbon producing activities. And along with this an oil sands emission limit has been set, which may spur our community to lower our economic and consumer dependence on fossil fuels. 

How can I respond to Alberta's commitments? How can I support these plans? 

I work hard to make conscious decisions that help me care for a world that is a blessing. I continue to strive to live in wonder and joy at what I've been given. I aim to live a just life for myself, my family and my community. I hope these acts will be multiplied by the equal effort of people on my block and in my city. 

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