Debating the climate emergency

Oct 17, 2018 | 41-3, Blog, Environment, Governance, Video | 1 comment

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver called for an emergency debate in the BC Legislature to respond to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations (http://www.ipcc.ch/) “on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. “

I, and my colleagues Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau, are thankful that both the BC NDP and BC Liberals accepted the urgency of the debate.

[Transcript]

Thank you to the members of this Legislative Assembly for allowing this emergency debate to take place this afternoon.

This is the first week the Legislature has convened since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report was released. Three expert IPCC working groups issued a dire and urgent warning to governments around the world, including our own, arguing that we must immediately ramp up our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or face serious and irreversible consequences.

At the current levels of commitment, the world is on course for a disastrous 3 degrees of warming. The report states that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban infrastructure and industrial systems. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide will need to fall by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by 2050.

We have a responsibility

We have a responsibility to future generations to do our absolute best to make sure the decisions we make today, on their behalf as well…. We must be accountable for our territory. I often tell the stories of XÁLS, the creator of the WSÁNEĆ territory. XÁLS left that place, left that territory for the WSÁNEĆ, the people that live here today and in the past.

The key message that he left us was that we were to be accountable for our territory, that we were to make decisions that would not diminish it and that we weren’t to take more than could be replenished. We heard the words of Chief Maureen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation speak something similar weeks ago when she was explaining why her nation was fighting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. She said: “We need to come together to find a way to ensure our future generations can enjoy the world to the extent that we do. We must ask ourselves: have I done enough to ensure the future of my grandchild?”

Acting with urgency

The decision-makers in this place have a responsibility for more than just a four-year election cycle. We have a responsibility for the future as well. We need to be stewards of this province. In a world threatened by climate change, that means heeding the warning of climate scientists and acting with urgency.

All over our province, we see signs of our world being out of balance. We share B.C. with countless species that have uncertain futures — the grizzly, the caribou, the orcas, the chinook, the steelhead. They are highly visible species and indicators of how well our ecosystems are doing. When they falter, we falter. Orcas are struggling to find food and quiet in our Salish Sea. The Thompson River steelhead, a world-renowned, genetically unique species, are facing extirpation. British Columbia is one of the last strongholds for the grizzly.

These animals are powerful symbols of our home, and in their absence we have no right to call this place super or natural. It does not have to be this way. These trends are not natural, and they are not inevitable. They have been triggered by a series of choices made by our governments, by us. In a new generation of leadership, we can choose to renew our relationship with the ecosystems that sustain our lives. We can choose to renew our relationship with our world.

What are we leaving our children?

I am a father, first and foremost, and when I think about the legacy that I want to leave to Silas and Ella…. And I know every one of us who are parents are thinking about that: what are we leaving our children?

So I encourage you to think about those words and to think about the words of our Indigenous leaders like Chief Thomas, who ask the question: have I done enough to ensure the future of my grandchild? HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM.

1 Comment

  1. Dianne Varga

    Can’t wait for proportional representation so we — all of us — can vote on issues without having to think about strategical numerical advantage or governments falling.

    Reply

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