Comment: We can take an effective step on climate immediately

As many of us paused on Thanksgiving to feel grateful for delicious food, for the people we love, for the beautiful world we were born into, scientists issued a warning like none before.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reviewed thousands of scientific studies and came out with “the largest clarion bell from the science community” yet. It came as a surprise to many that the difference between 1.5C and 2C of warming means millions of lives saved.

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Jim Skea, co-chairman of the working group on mitigation, explained: “We pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that. We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry.”

The World Resources Institute spells out some of the findings: “Behaviour and technologies will need to shift across the board in order to achieve these emissions reductions.

“For example, by 2050, renewables are projected to supply 70 to 80 per cent of electricity in 1.5C pathways. Energy efficiency and fuel-switching measures will be critical for the transportation sector.

“Reducing energy demand and improving efficiency of food production, changing dietary choices and reducing food loss and waste also have significant potential to reduce emissions.”

The bottom line: The world we have inherited, the world we love is in danger and it will take an unprecedented mobilization to protect it.

Citizens Climate Lobby is a group that empowers everyday citizens to work for change. Since its inception in 2007, hundreds of groups have been formed in the U.S., as well as more than 30 nations, ranging across the alphabet from Australia to Ukraine.

Canadian members headed to Ottawa this week to meet with their MPs.

Their message? Working to protect the climate is a matter of survival. It makes sense for everyone, regardless of political or other divides.

And step one is fair and effective carbon pricing.

The lobby recommends carbon fee and dividend. CFD would provide industry with certainty about the rising cost of pollution. It would return the fees collected to citizens because citizen support is essential for carbon pricing to work.

Already, there are signs that CFD could gain wide acceptance. Canadians for Clean Prosperity, a non-partisan group led by Max Cameron, a former policy director for Stephen Harper, recently released its Federal Carbon Price Impacts on Households paper.

That study “shows that the vast majority of households, regardless of income level, would receive more money in the form of carbon-dividend cheques than they would pay in carbon taxes, should the federal government introduce carbon dividends in those provinces in which it brings in its carbon tax ‘backstop’ starting in 2019.”

Ontario Liberal MP Marc Serré has come out as a champion for the proposal, and the federal Green Party also supports carbon fee and dividend.

Hundreds of businesses, as well as municipal governments in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria and the Islands Trust, have signed the lobby’s open letter, calling for more effective carbon-pricing efforts.

Decades ago, at another perilous moment in human history, people mobilized like never before to fight fascism.

This time, we have to mobilize, not to fight with guns and missiles, but to strengthen democracy, to co-operate across ideological and nation-state divides, to protect the life systems we depend on.

Thankfully, we have the scientific and technological tools we need.

And many of the things we need to do will improve our quality of life in general.

We must not give up now.

Longtime Citizens Climate Lobby member Jan Slakov of Salt Spring Island and new recruit Sue Andrews of Victoria have been working for decades for a sustainable way of life.

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