Canadian Environment Week: We are confronted by two emergencies

OTTAWA – For months Canada and the world have been engulfed in the response to COVID-19. The deadly pandemic has transformed societies, economies and people’s daily lives. Citizens and governments have seen that, when they recognize an emergency, political leaders at all levels are capable of responding in the spirit of “all hands on deck.” 

Just one year ago, June 17, 2019, the Parliament of Canada declared that we are in a climate emergency.  Last week, global greenhouse gas concentrations increased to their highest levels in over one million years – 417 ppm. Also last week, one of the hot-spot temperatures in the world was an unprecedented 30 degrees C inside the Arctic Circle. 

"When one compares government reaction to the COVID-19 emergency to government reaction to the climate emergency, one can see how little commitment there is to climate action,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “In fairness, it must be acknowledged that human nature reacts very differently to fast-moving emergencies than to slower-moving threats. The truth is the climate emergency is a much larger threat than COVID-19.  Understandably, the pandemic has been our collective focus these past months, but cyclones, droughts, wildfires and rising sea levels have not pushed pause.

“As we begin Canadian Environment Week, it is appropriate to reflect on how the pandemic has offered us a glimpse of a cleaner, more vibrant planet, with substantial drops in air and water pollution. Now is the time to seize the moment, not renege on our commitments or roll back existing environmental protections.

 “Now is the time to invest in renewable energy and put Canada on the path to a green recovery. That means redeploying people’s skills and creating thousands of jobs from coast to coast to coast. It is time to reshape our economy, to be bold and reclaim our position as a global leader on climate. If not now, when?”

“The writing is on the wall and we would be foolish not to seize this moment to transition Canada to the clean economy of the 21st century,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “The pandemic has highlighted our ability to listen to, and follow the advice of our medical experts, who are informed by science. Scientists have been warning us for years of the dire consequences of inaction on climate change.

“This pandemic has laid bare the glaring inequalities in our society; it has disproportionately affected vulnerable communities worldwide. The climate crisis is no different. As we commemorate Canadian Environment Week, let’s envisage the next chapter of this great country in the brightest, greenest way imaginable.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview: 

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary