Climate Plan Acceleration and Reasons for Hope

Photo credit Jim MacQuarrie

It is week # two of the COP26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow. The good news is that there has been much daily coverage and profile given to this important gathering. The consensus view is that the threat of climate change is real and consequential (existential) and that there is heightened urgency for the world to act. Just a few years ago, this was not necessarily a given where climate deniers had a platform and influence in high places, including among prominent government world leaders.

As this CBC piece outlines, one of the key goals of COP26 is to secure global net zero by 2050 and “keep 1.5 degrees within reach”. Read more here on why it makes a critical difference to keep 1.5C within reach, and what is the difference between climate impacts for 1.5C and 2C – CBC: https://bit.ly/3EUmKsY

It is easy and understandable to feel discouraged knowing that already the world has warmed by 1.1C above pre-industrial temperatures, as the United Nations reports. There is a huge, sustained effort and such major change required globally ahead on so many levels, acting to common goals – by governments, economic sectors, businesses, organizations, communities and individual citizens – it can become overwhelming at times, to make sense of the myriad challenges and how best to make positive, impactful change in one’s personal sphere of influence.

Some, especially (but not only) youth activists, are growing impatient at the pace of change. Afterall, it is almost six years since the 196 parties first adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21 in Paris, on December 12, 2015, with the Agreement entering into force on November 4, 2016.  (See What is the Paris agreement, at: UNFCC: https://bit.ly/3mYYC2z)

We will spend time in upcoming blogs looking at the results and commitments arising from the annual meeting of the Council of Parties – COP26 in Glasgow.

For today, we wanted to share some positive news pieces–with a view to helping to keep up our spirits and optimism for change.

Five reasons to feel some hope after reading the IPCC report on climate change”

First, let’s start with some hope. Offered up by Rick Smith, in an October 2021 blog post for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (at: https://bit.ly/3mYjMxs)

“Changes made in Canada and globally could help to trigger an acceleration in decarbonization.”

“..So, yes, there is a lot to feel anxious about between the covers of the new IPCC report.”

“But that’s not all there is. So often, with climate change, the public discussion takes on a tone that verges on nihilism. But the future is still ours to write. With the backing of the IPCC’s historic scientific report, here are my top five reasons that I’m ending this week feeling some hope: 

  1. The worst impacts of climate change can be avoided.
  2. Global warming is reversible—if we act fast.
  3. Global progress towards reducing emissions is already happening.
  4. Carbon doesn’t stick around forever.

“Between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20 to 200 years. As the IPCC report makes clear, achieving low or very low greenhouse gas emissions will lead, within years, to discernible effects: swiftly reducing emissions today means that global temperature would begin to detectably trend downward within about 20 years.”

5. Rapidly reducing GHG emissions can be win-win-win. 

“Our report on Canada’s Net Zero Future shows that doing Canada’s part to keep warming to 1.5 is not just achievable, it will be beneficial to our future health and prosperity.” 

To access the full report – Canada’s Net Zero Future – Canadian Institute for Climate Choices – and to find out more about people and organizations involved in the Institute, go to: https://bit.ly/3C3nnP8

A Progress Report on Canada’s Climate Plan

So, how is Canada doing on our contribution to mitigate global warming, we wondered?

It is sometimes hard to decipher, and views are mixed on whether as a country we are doing enough, fast enough, particularly in terms of transforming our energy systems. As we will unpack in future blogs, taking earlier action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., hitting targets by 2030, enroute to 2050) makes a significant difference to achieving the longer-term goal of keeping 1.5C within reach. We liken it to being a bit like responding to the pandemic – going harder, early achieves a better result. 2030 targets matter.

Here is one report, by Clean Prosperity, that Canada’s climate plan has “a reasonable chance of meeting its 2030 targets”. “Measured” but still “good news” that we are seemingly on path to achieving our goals.

What is the goal? Canada’s climate action plan sets a target to cut emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. (https://bit.ly/3mZcZnu)

“Our modelling shows that the Liberals’ climate policies give them a reasonable chance of achieving their Paris Agreement target. But getting there will be no easy feat. It’s critical that the Liberals implement their policies quickly and prioritize them intelligently,” said Clean Prosperity Executive Director and the report’s lead author Michael Bernstein. 

“Based on the Clean Prosperity/ESMIA modelling, the three most important climate priorities for the Liberal government should be: 1) the Clean Electricity Standard; 2) regulations to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector; and 3) policies to reduce emissions from road and off-road transport. These three priorities represent over three-quarters of the emissions reduction potential to 2030, and will be important for Canada’s long-term decarbonization and economic competitiveness.”

Read the full October 2021 report at: https://bit.ly/3bV0qD9

“Grassroots to Glasgow”

When ‘global’ feels too big and out of reach, some, like B.C.’s “Cool ‘Hoods Champs program” find that ‘local’ works to bring “ordinary people into the climate conversation”.

“The Cool ‘Hoods Champs program was created to bridge the knowledge gap between climate science and everyday people — by bringing solutions to where they live, said lead researcher Cheryl Ng.”

“…There are a lot of Canadians who care a lot about climate change, but they don’t know what to do about it,” said Ng.

“What better way to start than to just, you know, go to people right where they live and talk to them about how they can pick solutions with their family and their friends and their neighbours within the neighbourhood?”

Learn more about the UBC climate change workshop and positive steps we can all take to counter feelings of climate anxiety from this CBC piece at: CBC- https://bit.ly/3kir0Li

Mi’Kmaw Communities Go Solar to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Here are excerpts from another hopeful piece by CBC, profiling local community climate action by seven New Brunswick Mi’kmaq communities going solar toward the longer-term goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral. (CBC – https://bit.ly/3F0V9Xf)

“Four buildings in Fort Folly First Nation will soon be completely powered by the sun, as part of a move toward renewable energy in Mi’kmaw communities across New Brunswick.”

“Chief Rebecca Knockwood said the project is an investment in the future.”

” ‘As First Nations people, we’re protectors and keepers of the lands and of the environment. And we want to try and reduce our carbon footprint,’ she said.”

“In Fort Folly, about 40 minutes drive southeast of Moncton, near Dorchester, solar arrays are being installed on the roofs of the band office and community centre, and on ground mounts in front of the former bingo hall and the building that houses the community’s fisheries habitat recovery program.”

“Once complete, those buildings will be entirely carbon neutral.”

‘Exciting for the community’

“The solar panels will take five years to pay off, before generating about $17,000 per year. That extra revenue is being considered to offset costs for employment and youth programs.”

“N.B. Power’s net metering program allows individuals and organizations to install up to 100 kW of solar on a building. The owner receives credits for days where surplus electricity is produced, which offset the days with limited sunlight.”

(Full article at: CBC: https://bit.ly/3F0Vkln)

Old Crow, Yukon – Big Ambitions to be Carbon Neutral by 2030

We are inspired and humbled after witnessing the wisdom, grit and optimism for the future in this meditative CBC videoclip on how the small Yukon community of Old Crow on the Arctic Circle is taking action to adapt to climate change in order to still be able to practice their way of life, now and in the future.

The community of Old Crow has big ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030.

We appreciate this window into hearing the elders explain how they ae applying a “climate conscious lens” as they act to mitigate the impact of climate change on the caribou’s habitat and shift to clean energy sources toward a livable community for future generations to come. We recommend taking six minutes for this inspiring video piece:  https://bit.ly/3wCimvV

David Suzuki Foundation – 10 Reasons to be Hopeful about Climate Action

Even David Suzuki, tireless champion for the environment and climate action, recognizes the need to feed and sustain hope, even while acknowledging as real the ‘grief, fear and injustice woven into the harsh reality of a changing climate.”

“Along with feelings of grief and fear about climate change, there are reasons for hoping that Canada can ramp up its climate ambition to help the critical global mission to limit warming to maintain a livable climate.” (Suzuki Foundation –https://bit.ly/3EXLRLE)

Ten Reasons to Be Hopeful about Climate Action

  • The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly
  • Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action
  • The kids are all right. The youth climate movement is not backing down
  • The Supreme Court affirmed that climate change is an emergency
  • Indigenous communities are taking energy and climate issues into their own hands
  • Canada has a strengthened climate plan and significant funding to implement it
  • Cities and towns are demonstrating leadership in climate action
  • The U.S. has stepped up its ambition and is normalizing bold action
  • Climate action creates millions of jobs — and everyone wants jobs
  • Centering equity in climate action will help address systemic causes and interconnected injustices

Readers may want to learn more about these ten reasons for hope, by viewing the details in the accompanying pop up windows at: https://bit.ly/3obNONK.

To illustrate, here is the accompanying blurb and information for the first reason listed above–

“The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly:

“In 2019, jaws dropped when a report by International Renewable Energy Agency demonstrated that unsubsidized renewable energy in most circumstances became the cheapest source of energy generation. Then, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020 declared solar power the cheapest source of electricity in history. In addition, the cost of energy storage has dropped by more than 90 per cent over the past 10 years. These lower costs will continue to propel mass adoption of renewables and will make them available for many people.” (Suzuki Foundation – https://bit.ly/3mZSqHr)

Majority of Canadians Support Climate Policy

Good news reason number two on the Suzuki Foundation list above is “Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action.”

This article by Erika Ibrahim on recent survey results  backs up this reason for hope. (Ibrahim – https://bit.ly/3BZtvb6)

Ibrahim reports that, “Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to an online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they support Canada’s announcement at the summit that it will cap and reduce pollution from the oil and gas sector toward net zero by 2050.”

“Some 65 per cent of respondents also say they support the government’s new policy to stop exporting coal by 2030, a move which would end the trade abroad of about 36 million tonnes of the resource, currently 60 per cent of what the country produces.”

“Sixty-one per cent also support Canada’s recent policy announcement that it will halt subsidies that assist oil and natural gas companies to run and grow their operations outside the country by the end of 2022.”

“..Canadians were split on how they rate the country’s effort to address climate change, with half agreeing that Canada has taken great strides and 40 per cent disagreeing.”

“..Three in four respondents said they believe there is still time to put measures in place to stop climate change…”

– Ibrahim article: https://bit.ly/3obZfVQ

– Leger tracker website and survey highlights: https://bit.ly/3CW8wHA

– Leger Poll Full Report, https://bit.ly/303SGvZ

Photo Credit Lucy MacQuarrie

COP26

COP26 in Glasgow wraps up this week.

We plan on examining the reports on its impact and actions arising in future blog posts.

For now, we end with this succinct and hopeful appraisal by Rick Smith, in his blog for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choice:

“COP26 is a pivotal moment for Canada and the world.”

“There’s still just enough time to do what we need to do — so long as we’re smart, ambitious, and determined.”

(Smith, November 2, 2021: https://bit.ly/3EWE9l1)

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