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Is it time for The Birthplace of Confederation to declare a climate emergency?
Already this year, two Canadian cities – Vancouver and Halifax – have declared climate emergencies.
These jurisdictions have agreed to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, set new climate change targets and prepare for severe weather events.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report states the dire consequences of an increase of global temperatures of 1.5 C and 2 C. This serves as a stark wake-up call to humanity about the existential threat posed by climate change. To avoid the worst of the predicted outcomes, global carbon emissions must be cut by half by 2030 and to zero by 2050. This is an unprecedented task, requiring a Second World War mobilization effort to reduce to a rate of at least seven per cent annually. No country has to date achieved more than 1.5 per cent. The only possible response is emergency action that will transform human social, economic and financial systems.
Rallies are being held by people of all ages and all walks of life around the globe to bring awareness of the seriousness of the climate change. Climate genocide, aka ecoside, is not only real but predicted if global warming is not limited to 2 C.
According to the IPCC, if current trends continue nearly all coral reefs will die out, wildfires and heatwaves will sweep across the planet annually and droughts and flooding will cause the worlds food supply to become dramatically less secure. Prince Edward Island already has the second worst food security in Canada next to Nunavut.
A karate instructor once told me, 'We don't rise to the level of our expectations, but we fall to the level of our preparedness.” We must prepare for the worst and become more energy and food secure.
We need to embrace renewable energy, stop burning fossil fuels, retrofit buildings to be eco-friendly, and invest in reforestation to provide the world with carbon sinks. As well as provide education and job training to those in the areas and lines of work most impacted by climate change.
To avoid this scale of suffering, “We must act now,” according to climate crisis hero, a 15-year- old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg. She began a lone school strike and started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, now millions have since joined her in protests around the world.
Recently, with a clarity and a frankness rarely seen, Greta, shamed climate change negotiators at the United Nations Summit in Poland stating "You are not mature enough to tell it like is … Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet."
I am calling on our political leaders to be brave like Greta and acknowledge the earnestness and graveness of our planet’s climate crisis and declare a climate emergency.
The time for action is NOW! I believe that we are all natural-born problem solvers and that we must proceed to tackle climate change with a fierceness as it our lives and the lives of our neighbors depend on it … because they do.
Jamie Larkin is a Charlottetown resident and former mayoral candidate.