A few months ago as I perused pictures of the many Climate Marches taking place around the world on November 29, I was touched at the call to care. People from all walks of life and cultures showed a desire to work together. People who have suffered immensely spoke out about how their lives have been affected by Climate Change, and others marched in solidarity.
This was all in hopeful anticipation of the Paris Climate talks, which took place in December; attended by leaders including Prime Minister Trudeau and Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“The Paris Agreement,” endorsed by Canada, and to be ratified by nations on April 22, calls for a 1.5°C limit on global warming. Though the agreement doesn’t solve all of our problems, in this critical time for climate policy in Canada, it provides an essential impetus for action.
My Christian tradition puts me, a creature, as a part of creation. Indeed, I have wisdom and power to cultivate and create, but also power to harm. My Creator calls me (and my Christian Reformed community) to work toward right relationship. This means lamenting where I have gone wrong and seeking to respect and work for the good of those around me. This means, for example, valuing forests because they are beautiful ecosystems in and of themselves, not solely because I can make money off of the wood.
We as humans, regardless of tradition or religion, care deeply for our own children and those closest to us. Imagine extending that circle of care and respect to include more than only those we immediately care about. Imagine a household that includes everyone from the communities across the globe to the mycorrhizal system under the forest on the North Shore. That size of household might sound overwhelming, but only until we realize that working together is the wisest way to care for our home.
We see the most vulnerable in countries such as Syria and Eastern Africa already affected by life-changing droughts. We are also seeing changes in our own backyard. We have made a commitment in Paris, and now we need to act on it. It is essential that Canada’s government follow through on promises to meet with Premiers, First Nations, Inuit and Metis leaders, slated to happen March 2 and 3. It has been a decade since the federal government has been present in talks specifically around climate change.
This is a critical time, where decisions — however small they may seem — will determine future investments. Will these meetings produce support for green infrastructure and jobs, clean technologies, and carbon pricing? Will they reflect the need for more energy efficiency in buildings and transport? Or will they leave us ultimately locked into future reliance on carbon extraction for long-term projects?
My faith community, along with 65 others, through the statement “On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada,” hopes that our government will be able to take a leap: to see building a pan-Canadian framework to combat climate change as an opportunity to find solutions that will work for everybody. We have been wasteful with our energy use, and our shared household is calling us to use it wisely. Canada does have a part to play.
Back to November 29: It was a cold sunny day here in Vancouver, and I held high a sign that read, “Everyone: Use less. Please.” We heard inspirational words from Grand Chief Stewart Phillips, the president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, calling us to work together no matter our background. The work is to put together the needs of our Provinces and Territories in a realistic plan; recognizing that the economy and environment go hand in hand. This work, to listen and to act, is in all of our best interests.
I call on our government to do this hard work. Close the gap between current Canadian targets and the target set in Paris. This critical time of recreating climate policy is key in encouraging and enabling all of us to care.