Dear Fellow Greens,
“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night,” was Bette Davis’s famous line in All About Eve. This letter is going to be a bumpy read. Please stay with me until I get to the good news.
The October 8 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t so much that the information in the report was unexpected. I have known for years, even before we signed the Paris Agreement, that the collectivity of all national commitments to reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) was far too little to achieve the Paris goal.
In Paris, the nations of the world committed to hold global average temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees C above what they were before the Industrial Revolution. Before the climate negotiations in Paris, the IPCC had crunched all the numbers behind all the pledges. It was clear that the combined impact of all countries’ promises – even if honoured and achieved on time – would see global average temperatures shoot right through 1.5 degrees, past 2 degrees and potentially hit 3.7 degrees.
The recent IPCC report on the pathway to 1.5 degrees communicated some new information:
- A 1.5 degrees world is much worse than we thought. It is our best possible outcome, will preserve life on earth, but it will involve significant climate disruption;
- 2 degrees is much worse and could put all of humanity on a trajectory to extinction; and
- We still have a chance to hold to 1.5 degrees with immediate and urgent action.
To avoid global catastrophe on a level beyond contemplation, we must, collectively, reduce global GHG by 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 – and be virtually carbon neutral by 2050. We must also protect and re-establish forests – everywhere.
This is the good news. We should be shouting it from the rooftops:
We do not have much time. If we miss the goal of reducing emissions globally by 45 per cent in 12 years, that one last chance is lost. Forever.
In Canada, we are engaged in an inane debate about carbon pricing in which the Liberals exaggerate the benefits of their modest, but welcome, plan and the Conservatives confirm their utter unsuitability for office.
Even on October 15, when I succeeded in getting a special Emergency Debate on the IPCC report, most MPs acted as though this was a standard partisan slugfest: Conservatives with their misleading mantra that carbon pricing is a “tax on everything”; Liberals claiming they are climate leaders while they spend $4.5 billion on a leaky 65-year-old pipeline and pledge another $10 billion to build the dreaded expansion.
The truth is that Canada’s target is still among the weakest among industrialized countries.
That’s because Justin Trudeau opted to keep the old Harper target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Worse yet, the Trudeau administration is not even on track to meet that weak target.
With only modest carbon pricing set to begin in 2019, fossil fuel subsidies still in place and no plans for federal eco-energy retrofits or meaningful steps to de-carbonize our electricity grid, we are far from the Harper target and nowhere near the massive move away from fossil fuels that the IPCC warns us is now non-negotiable.
I am going to Poland for the next round of climate negotiations where the countries of the world will grapple with the IPCC report. So far, the Environment and Climate Change minister has given no indication that she understands what this report means. She talks a good game. She may even mean what she says. But she continues to ignore the reality that we cannot afford to wait years before ramping up our target and our actions.
This is where you come in – and it’s why your support and encouragement are so important and so very much appreciated.
Now, more than ever before, we need a large caucus of Green MPs working across party lines to achieve a massive societal movement off fossil fuels.
We are about to enter an election year. For the first time, climate will be the ballot box issue and I am confident that on October 21, 2019, the pundits and prognosticators are going to be knocked off their feet as Green MPs are elected across Canada.
During the coming campaign, Green candidates from coast to coast to coast will be working tirelessly to present our case for immediate and decisive action on the climate emergency. Canadians need to know that we can survive and thrive in a post-carbon economy. Greens will be laying out, step by step, how we can power our economy without burning fossil fuels.
We will base our campaign in hope for the future – not the empty hope of the morally lazy or of wishful thinkers but the hope described by David Orr in Down to the Wire: “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”
We will set out our vision for social justice, affordable housing, improved and protected public health care, pharmacare, justice and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and economic and educational opportunities for our youth. But unlike other parties, we will be consistent in saying that nothing matters unless we save a functioning, healthy biosphere. We are diminished as a species if we decide that other species are expendable; that whales and polar bears and millions of pollinators do not matter.
Of all the party leaders in the 2019 leaders’ debates – debates in which my participation is guaranteed – I will be the only one keeping the focus on what matters.
We have the wind in our sails. Despite the perverse “winner take all” first-past-the-post voting system, Greens have been making breakthroughs across Canada. There are now 10 Greens elected at the provincial and federal level. Greens have a caucus of three fantastic MLAs in British Columbia, three in New Brunswick, two in Prince Edward Island (where the Green Party is currently in first place in the polls) and in Ontario, Leader Mike Schreiner won the first Green seat in June.
Meanwhile, all those broken promises have destroyed the faith so many placed in the Liberals. The absence of a party leader as polarizing as Stephen Harper can only help our cause and, with the advent of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party, the Conservative vote will be split. Although it is not the fair election we were promised by Justin Trudeau (the first federal election not held under first past the post) other conditions have changed substantially.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to change politics in Canada forever. Right now, nothing matters more.
Please help me be ready for 2019. We have a small fraction of the funding of the old-line parties. Please send as much as you can before December 31, 2018.
The heroic efforts are in writing cheques, knocking on doors and educating everyone we know. Please give what you can now to help us be part of a greener government in 2019.
In hope and solidarity,
Elizabeth May, MP
Leader of the Green Party of Canada
P.S. Don’t forget about the tax credit for political donations. You will get up to 75 percent back on your gift.