We care about climate change because we want to live in a world where everyone has the right to develop and prosper, and where all species can coexist. Unfortunately, our present course of action is putting this future in jeopardy. Canada and other wealthy nations are primarily responsible for climate change, and have a special obligation to take action while helping developing countries adapt. Although Canada has one of the worst track records on climate change in the world, it is not too late to change course. Through coordinated effort and proven solutions, we can avoid one of the greatest injustices in history.
If we refuse to take action, we risk creating a world where:
The poorest will be hit hardest
Climate change will disproportionately impact people in developing countries, even though they did not create the problem. By avoiding strong action, Canada and other wealthy countries are putting the world’s most vulnerable people at increased risk of drought and crop failures, disease, flooding and other extreme weather events, as well as conflict over increasingly scarce resources.
Image: Pakistani flood victims. Credit: UNFCCC
We harm ourselves
Climate change impacts will be felt by everybody, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or income. The longer we delay action, the greater the chance that our communities will be forced to relocate because of rising sea levels, a family farm will close due to drought, or a loved one will die because of a heat wave.
Ecosystems and species would be devastated
Unchecked, climate change will have catastrophic implications for species and ecosystems. It is estimated that up to 40% of all species will become extinct if climate change is not curbed. Not only would this be a grave injustice to nature, but we would also be robbing our children and grandchildren of the beauty that is the earth’s natural heritage.
Photo: The golden toad was one of the first species to fall victim to climate change. It was last seen in the Costa Rican rainforest in 1989.
“We recognise unequivocally that there is a moral imperative to tackle the causes of global warming. This is reinforced by the reality that it is the poor and vulnerable who are most profoundly affected by the environmental impact of climate change – especially drought, floods, water shortages and rise in sea levels.” – Statement by Faith Leaders and participants in the Faith and the Environment Seminar at Lambeth Palace, 29 October 2009.
Where we come in
Canada is one of ten largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, and has the second-highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world. We are not doing our fair share to fight climate change, despite the existence of effective and affordable solutions. Instead, we are allowing emissions from the tar sands to grow while diverting funding from clean energy. Canada needs to take urgent action to reduce its emissions, and to help developing countries adapt to the climate change brought on by previous emissions.
Photo © OttawaAction.ca