By Guy Dauncy
“We are facing a disaster of unspoken suffering for enormous amounts of people, so please, treat the climate crisis like the acute crisis it is, and give us a future.” – Greta Thunberg
As I write this paper, terrible forest fires are raging in Washington, Oregon and California, and most people who are not entrenched climate deniers are either thinking or feeling that
“This climate crisis is frighteningly real. We really need to act with more urgency.”
In June 2020, thousands of citizens, activists and climate scientists sent an open letter to European and global leaders. After making various proposals similar to those in this paper, they wrote:
We understand and know very well that the world is complicated and that what we are asking for may not be easy.The changes necessary to safeguard humanity may seem very unrealistic.
But it is much more unrealistic to believe that our society would be able to survive the global heating we’re heading for, as well as other disastrous ecological consequences of today’s business as usual.
To limit global heating to 1.5 degrees, the upcoming months and years are crucial. The clock is ticking. Doing your best is no longer good enough. You must now do the seemingly impossible.
Even though you might have the option of ignoring the climate crisis, that is not an option for us – for your children.
Right now, there is no place on Earth where children face a future in a safe environment. This is and will be very much a reality for the rest of our lives.
We ask you to face the climate emergency.
Nowhere in the BC NDP government’s climate action plans is there any sense of urgency or alarm – and yet history tells us that most people only get up off their couches to engage for change when they feel obliged to do so by pain, compassion, shock or alarm.
The climate emergency is appallingly real. The Canadian public is ready, waiting for the politicians to catch up.
- 81% of Canadians feel that the climate emergency poses a major threat to the future of their children and grandchildren;
- 86% believe that Canada has the potential to be among the world’s most successful countries in developing clean energy technologies;
- 79% would be even more supportive of bold climate action if their governments provided financial support to low-income families to help them transition away from fossil fuels.
Where is our climate Churchill, who will end the long years of climate appeasement and convey the true urgency that the crisis calls for?
What would a real Climate Emergency Plan look like? BC has just entered a provincial election, offering a major opportunity for the consideration of important new ideas.
Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic. But to suggest that this makes it an inappropriate time to focus attention on the climate crisis is like saying that we should ignore the reality that our house is on fire, because someone inside the house has Covid-19. We are adults. We can pay attention to and tackle the many crises that face us at the same time.
Fifty Ways offers many possibilities, premised on the reality of the climate emergency and a positive vision of life beyond fossil fuels. The author, Guy Dauncey, has written two major books on climate solutions. He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and the author of Climate Emergency: A 26-Week Transition Program for Canada (January 2020), on which he was invited to speak to MPs in Ottawa before Covid-19 struck. He is President of the Yellow Point Ecological Society, and a member of the GTEC Council for the New Green Economy. He lives near Ladysmith, BC.
The proposals that Dauncey is laying on the table for BC’s next government include the following initiatives:
- Establish a separate Ministry for Climate Emergency Action, and a Cabinet Climate Emergency Committee chaired by the Premier.
- Advance BC’s goals to a 65% reduction below 2007 by 2030, 80% by 2035, and 100% by 2040.
- Develop a Climate Mobilization Strategy to reach all five million British Columbians in person.
- Recruit 250,000 Climate Leaders who will commit to zero-carbon transportation and heating by 2022.
- Recruit 5,000 Youth Climate Rangers who will volunteer for two years of service, with pay similar to CERB, followed by free college education or training.
- Require all schools to teach all students Ecology 101 and Climate Solutions.
- Establish a public Green Development Bank, similar to those in Europe.
- Increase the carbon tax by $20 a year, reaching $240 per tonne by 2030, and mail a Climate Action Dividend cheque to every low and middle-income household every January.
- Establish 13 Clean Economy Climate Partnerships. Ask each to research and lay out how it could end climate pollution in its sector of the economy by 2040.
- Tell every business in BC that it is expected to achieve zero climate pollution by 2040.
- Offer zero-interest loans to help businesses achieve the goal.
- Establish a Circular Economy Crown Corporation to achieve a fully circular BC economy by 2050.
- End all coal mining by 2025.
- End all oil and natural gas extraction by 2040.
- Withdraw all government support from liquefied natural gas (LNG).
- Create a Good Jobs Guarantee to protect all affected workers, with a clear pathway to new jobs.
- Develop a Climate-Compliant Forest Management Strategy.
- Accelerate BC’s Active Transportation goal to 10% of personal trips by 2030, 25% by 2040.
- Advance the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate date to 2025, but make it flexible.
- Accelerate the transition to electric buses, trucks, ferries, boats, and planes.
- Accelerate initiatives to help BC’s Indigenous communities end climate pollution.
- Require every new building to be built to the Passive House Standard by 2022.
- Establish RetrofitBC as a Crown Corporation to deliver mass, deep neighbourhood-scale retrofits.
- Recruit 5,000 Youth Retrofit Rangers, similar to the Climate Rangers.
- Develop a system of Soil Carbon Certification, and use it to increase farmland soil carbon.
- Establish a Regenerative Farmland Transition Council to achieve a transition to regenerative farming and holistic ranch land management by 2040.
- Set a provincial goal for carbon sequestration and storage.
- Require Climate Impact Scorecards and a Sustainable Procurement Duty for all government contracts.
- Prepare new flood maps for all coastal communities, assuming a 2.5 metres rise in sea-level by 2100.
- Recruit 5,000 Youth Restoration Rangers, similar to the Climate Rangers.
We also need to understand that it is not climate pollution as such that is causing the climate emergency: it is our accumulated climate pollution.
We therefore face not one climate challenge, but two:
Challenge #1: To reduce our annual climate pollution to zero.
Challenge #2: To draw the surplus atmospheric carbon down to its preindustrial level, from 900 Gt to 600 Gt.