Viewpoint: Climate change impacts

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By RON HAWKINS

I would like to amend the letter I wrote in the Aug. 14 Driftwood entitled “Wake-Up Time.”

In it I referred to the International Panel on Climate Change Kyoto Agreement to reduce emissions. The Paris Agreement (December 2015) is the document to which I should have referred. A total of 195 member countries have signed this agreement, whose long-term goal is to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels in order to substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

Canada to date has failed to meet its part in this global commitment. In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. The earliest date permissible under the agreement is Nov. 4, 2020, shortly before the end of Trump’s current presidential term.

The impacts of projected climate change will be worse than expected according to an IPCC report released Oct. 7, 2018. Rich countries of the world on a per-capita basis are the major contributors to the problem of climate warming, yet the poor countries and areas of the world like Indigenous communities in northern Canada, for example, or densely populated seaboard communities in Asia and the South Pacific, (and Booth Canal, Salt Spring Island) will pay the price of relocation. Yet the rich countries, particularly Canada, will pay the much bigger price of mass homelessness and trans-border migrations.

This does not include any of the ecological destruction of species (plant or animal, to which we, homo sapiens, belong). How ironic: “sapiens” means “wise.”

The global carbon emissions by jurisdiction, according to Wikipedia’s Paris Agreement entry, includes in part the following: China, 29.4 per cent; U.S., 14.3 per cent; Europe, 9.8 per cent; India, 6.8 per cent;  Russia, 4.9 per cent; Canada, 1.6 per cent.

Yet on a per capita basis Canada exceeds the U.S. and is arguably the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Our standards of living, and our transportation practices, pleasures and inefficiencies are significantly responsible for this. China, with a 2017 population of 1.386 billion, is 36 times greater than Canada’s 37.06 million (2018) — meaning that on a per capita basis, with all its economic growth, Canada’s per capita emissions still exceed China’s.

Norway has committed to ban the sale of petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2025; the Netherlands will do the same by 2030. Electric trains running on the Dutch national rail network are already entirely powered by wind-energy.

There is so much for us to learn by searching online. As Greta Thunberg says:  “It is not that we are stupid, we simply haven’t been told by the media and government.” The first step is awareness. The second imperative is action.

“If your house is on fire,” as Greta asks, “are you going to act?”

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