Support journalism that lights the way through the climate crisis

Goal: $100k
$19,202

This week, average global temperatures are smashing records left and right, which “should fill everyone with anxiety,” says Green Party deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault.

The previous record of 16.92 C from 2016 was surpassed on Monday, which clocked 17.01 C. Tuesday was hotter still at 17.18 C, and The Associated Press reports that Wednesday could continue this upward trend.

The heat records come as 334 fires across Canada are burning out of control, in part exacerbated by a changing climate.

In June, the federal government warned this year’s wildfire season may be especially severe, and that prediction has come to fruition as forest fires have caused tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes over the last month.

“The fire season here has been devastating to so many communities and people who struggled with asthma and other lung conditions,” Pedneault told Canada’s National Observer in a phone interview.

“It's a public emergency, it's a health emergency, and yet we have a government that continues as though all of this was reversible and as though we were going to meet the urgency of the time with the half-assed measures that they have in place,” Pedneault said.

The federal government recently released its final climate adaptation strategy, which includes $1.6 billion over five years to put measures in place to reduce the risk of climate-related disasters; protect human health, nature and biodiversity; build resilient infrastructure; and support both the economy and workers.

At a time when we need drastic action to change our economic system and adapt our communities, the Liberal government continues to “subsidize Big Oil and praise Big Oil for their wonderful contribution to the building of their so-called green economy,” said Pedneault.

One of the main drivers of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. The fires that are destroying the homes, livelihoods and health of Canadians are intrinsically linked to the continued expansion of oil and gas production, said Canadian climate activist Tzeporah Berman in a phone interview with Canada’s National Observer.

This week, average global temperatures are smashing records left and right, which “should fill everyone with anxiety,” says Green Party deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault. 

“If you're not terrified right now and angry, you're not paying attention,” said Berman, who is the international program director with Stand.earth and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

“But it's also so frustrating,” she added. “Because we have the ability to address this crisis … we have the technology and capabilities to create a cheaper, safer and cleaner future,” said Berman, pointing to the reduced cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar that can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

“But the oil companies are holding us back from the policies that will save lives in the future,” said Berman.

“It's not a tragedy, it's a scandal.”

Canada’s oil and gas production is forecast to increase between now and 2030. To keep global temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 C (at which point, there will be irreversible consequences for both humans and the environment), the world’s greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030, according to research by the world’s leading climate scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 2022, the federal government approved a major offshore oil project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has since been postponed partly due to cost increases in the oil sector.

Constructive criticism is part of the process and when it comes to climate change, “we always need to do more,” said Manitoba MP Terry Duguid. He says his government is “working very hard,” certainly harder than any previous administration.

“We are the only government, I think, in our history as a country that has taken climate change and emissions reduction seriously, and it’s working,” said Duguid, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Alongside the newly announced National Adaptation Plan, Duguid pointed to his government “investing billions in emissions reductions and building … the clean energy economy.”

“We always need to do more, but we've got a plan, and we are on track with that plan to meet our emissions reductions by 2030 on to net zero by 2050,” he said. The climate plan is “evergreen” and “being adjusted all the time to meet the changing landscape,” Duguid added.

The federal government is banking on a suite of proposed investment tax credits to usher Canada into a low-carbon economy. Over the next 11 years, more than $80 billion is earmarked for these tax credits, which target clean electricity, hydrogen, carbon capture, critical mineral extraction and manufacturing of clean technology related to electric vehicles, nuclear and energy storage.

While it's easy to become desensitized to constant reports of record-breaking heat, it's impossible to ignore the “extremely scary” impacts of climate change: from hurricane Fiona’s destruction to flooding in B.C. to severe wildfires across the nation to the deadly heat dome that killed more than 600 people in B.C. two summers ago, said NDP MP Laurel Collins.

“It's really the inaction of governments that has put us on a path where we are going to see these occurrences more and more,” said Collins.

“Those over 600 people who died in B.C. from the heat dome … the vast majority of them were low-income folks, seniors who do not have cooling options in their homes,” said Collins, pointing to the need for widespread building retrofits, including programs for low-income people and apartment buildings.

Berman urged Canadians “who are choking from smoke” and watching fires sweep across the country to hold our elected officials accountable and demand the government “stand up to the influence of the fossil fuel industry, who are making this crisis worse.”

“We don't currently have a plan. The government at a provincial and federal level has bought into the oil industry's delusion that we can continue to expand production while introducing some technologies to reduce emissions,” said Berman.

Carbon capture technology is a key part of the federal government’s plan to reduce emissions produced from oil production, and it has proposed a tax credit worth an estimated $18 billion over the next decade to help companies adopt this technology. It does not address the vast majority of emissions that are produced when fossil fuels are burned, and environmentalists warn the costly technology could lock in fossil fuel production at a time when all the science points to a speedy phaseout.

“Even if you've never done it before, we need people to be writing and calling their MLAs and MPs, telling them it's a priority that we stop expanding oil and gas,” said Berman.

— With files from The Associated Press

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Keep reading

“...should fill everyone with anxiety,”

"If you're not terrified right now and angry, you're not paying attention.."

We folks who hunker under the canopy of the broad environmentalist tent need to consider whether this type of messaging is actually useful.

In this specific instance, is the primary objective to get people even more anxious, or is it to have people feel they have a workable and useful way of demonstrating their concern is a way that is seen and heard, and might even effect change?

I suggest the Green Party would better serve the cause, and its own prospects, by offering clearly stated policy alternatives, rather than expressing general platitudes, amplifying angst, and -- even when well-deserved -- throwing tomatoes from the sidelines.

i.e. offer evident ways to reduce angst and increase a collective sense of possibility.

Just a suggestion. I know messaging is a key concern of any movement.

"The fires that are destroying the homes, livelihoods and health of Canadians are intrinsically linked to the continued expansion of oil and gas production, said Canadian climate activist Tzeporah Berman."

Someone please tell Ms. Berman not to sign off on "climate" plans premised on oil and gas expansion.

Berman on Alberta's climate plan 2016: "I understand that we produce over two million barrels a day, and that will increase under the new oilsands emissions limit. I am supporting that climate change plan." (Calgary Herald, Jul 14, 2016)
Berman: "While the NDP strategy was far from perfect, at least it was moving in the right direction, albeit slowly."

In 2016, ENGOs like Ms. Berman's (Stand Earth, as well as Pembina Institute, Environmental Defence, Équiterre) provided political cover to oilsands expansion.
Alberta's fraudulent cap limited oilsands emissions at 43% ABOVE then-current levels. Enabling nominal (i.e., grossly under-reported) oilsands emissions to rise, not fall. At best, Alberta's emissions in 2030 would remain virtually unchanged from 2015.
Making it impossible for Canada to meet its targets. Climate sabotage. A plan to fail.
This failed climate plan brought to you by your local Esso dealer holding hands with your favorite ENGO.

Ms. Berman now acknowledges that ENGO collusion with the oil industry was a failure, because the industry staunchly opposes meaningful climate action. Of course, anybody paying the slightest attention could have told her so and saved her the trouble.
A few years later, ENGO leaders come back and say, "Sorry, we didn't realize it was a bad deal. Please trust us again."
Everybody else realized. Why didn't they?

Who elected these corporate environmentalists and industry collaborators to speak on our behalf? Who gave them the greenlight to negotiate bad deals? I don't remember voting for them. They have far too much power and zero accountabilty — and they do a lot of damage.
Unelected ENGO leaders need to stop making bad deals with industry, stop downplaying government failure, and stop selling us out.
Maybe think twice about donating to big ENGOs. Support local grassroots groups active in your community instead. And pray they don't get too big.

Following, perhaps, the trail blazed by cooperation between the BC forest products industry and ENGOs at the time of the "war in the woods".

And yet...

https://thenarwhal.ca/25-years-after-clayoquot-sound-blockades-the-war-i...

It's hard, at times, to avoid thinking that "Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice", or whatever list of names is scribbled at the bottom of fundraising emails, don't necessarily have the interests of the biosphere as the top priority.

Is the only reliable path forward having an environmental bill of rights codified in the constitution?

Thank you National Observer for being one of the few media to write about the crisis, which is more than high temperatures, reliance on oil and gas, a business practice of bowing to the pecking order and focusing on power as the main reality to bow to. We have forgotten so much in nature which has sustained our survival and just letting the system do its thing. Which means all that lives on this planet is worth less than the economy.