Climate Emergency: What Are Canadians Willing to Do About It?


Climate Emergency: What Are Canadians Willing to Do About It?

Vegan Society of Canada News, September 15th 2019

The results of this new survey published by the CBC should be of grave concern. On the one hand it’s a good sign that Canadians do not seem to have a bias against giving up meat. On the other hand, the reason we do not have a bias against giving up meat in particular is simply because we seem to be disinclined to do anything at all. The article states:

The findings point to a population that is both gravely concerned about the heating of the planet but largely unprepared to make significant sacrifices in order to stave off an environmental crisis.

Maybe the key word in that statement from the survey is “unprepared.” We have to ask ourselves, what will it take to be prepared to take inspired action to ensure we meet our Paris agreement targets, to avert the looming environmental crisis that is one hundred per cent on the horizon if we simply maintain the status quo?

It has long since stopped being a question of “if” there will be an environmental crisis and no amount of denying climate change is going to change that. Now it’s a question of “when” the crisis is going to directly affect us in major ways, and, let’s be clear, the “when” of this crisis hitting is growing dangerously close.

The idea that politicians are leaders in this global crisis is a fallacy. In essence, the work they focus on mirrors what is going on in our society. To date, almost no governments have any concrete plans to attain the Paris Agreement on climate change.

A report published in May of this year by Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration based in Melbourne, Australia states: “Even for 2C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model, with a high likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end.” This begs the question, particularly since as Canadians we have stated that climate change is a major concern, why aren’t we doing more about it in our day-to-day lives? Why are we wasting even one moment debating the reality of climate change when we should be taking responsibility for reaching this crisis point—and taking action? Is driving a smaller vehicle or switching to an electric vehicle, and giving up animal agriculture not worth the future of the planet for future generations?

These are questions we need to ask ourselves. We need to walk our talk. If climate change is important, then let us step up and be accountable. This is especially important for Canadians because Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Our collective habit of turning a blind eye to what is really going because we are resistant to change needs to stop. In the meat industry, for example, most people don’t give a moment’s thought about the horrors faced by slaughterhouse workers every day. But, we believe that if everyone saw what really goes on in slaughterhouses, or on factory farms for that matter, everyone would be vegan.

If we all witnessed what goes on in a slaughterhouse, would we be open to change? Would we consider changing our lifestyle? Would we do whatever we could to prevent the suffering of animals and reduce our contribution to climate change at the same time?

Is our reluctance to face reality setting up our country for failure? We tell politicians that climate change is one of our most important concerns, yet half of us are unwilling to spend an extra $100 per year in taxes to do anything about it. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians claim to be willing to make changes in their daily lives to tackle our climate emergency. The two most popular are:

  • Buying local
  • Reducing the thermostat

But let's be clear, buying local and reducing the thermostat will not get us to our meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

As pointed out in this CBC piece, buying local has little impact on our carbon footprint. Additionally, in Canada we generate 81% of electricity through renewables or nuclear, which means that lowering our thermostat also has little impact on our carbon footprint unlike other countries like China, India or even the United States where only 20% of the electricity comes from renewable or nuclear sources where lowering the thermostat will obviously have a larger impact on emissions.

Statistics show that Canada has the worst record when it comes to the efficiency of our vehicles.

Our selfishness of driving inefficient vehicles is harming the environment and they pose a risk to the rest of us who share the roads with them, as was clearly outlined in this National Post article.

If the Climate Action Tracker were to rate Canada’s projected emissions levels in 2030 under current policies, Canada would rate as “Highly insufficient,” indicating that Canada’s current policies are not sufficient to meet the requirements under the Paris Agreement. Instead, the policies are consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C and are not in line with any interpretation of a “fair” approach to meeting our targets.

Transformative changes are needed and not the type of token gesture we are willing to make. Some recent research looked at the carbon footprint future generations that are born today will have to work within:

It should be clear from this graph that life as we know it will cease to exist. And redefining what it means to have good quality of life is not a solution.

Our greed and lack of action are destroying our planet. There is no magic bullet; significant changes to our fossil fuel consumption, our diet, and our lifestyle are needed to achieve our 1.5°C goal. We can all play a role in making sure that happens and in circumventing the looming point of no return.

One in four species are at risk of extinction. If we continue unguarded and without solid plans in place and being acted on every day, who’s to say that humans won’t be one of them?

The time is now, Canada. Let's put action behind our words and do everything that is within our power to do to avert the environmental crisis we are racing toward.

We know of no other efficient means for individuals to fight our climate emergency, loss of nature, antibiotic resistance, global acidification, eutrophication, fresh water shortage, health problems, save countless lives and much much more without the need to wait for government, corporations or technological innovation. Go vegan today! Contact us for help in your change of lifestyle and to link up with one of the many local communities in your area.