"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry D. Thoreau

 

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Tuesday
Dec292015

The Right Climate

by Jack Heppner

It appears that we have entered a new political climate in which global climate change is being taken seriously by most governments, industries and citizens around the world. The Paris climate talks are at least partially responsible for the new winds blowing.

The public naysayers and their followers who have vested interests in maintaining the status quo are definitely on the ropes. As Thomas Homer-Dixon recently said in a Globe and Mail article, “As Earth’s atmosphere warms and severe droughts, storms, and wildfires sweep the planet, those arguing that climate change isn’t a grave danger have had to bob and weave to stay on their feet.”

When we began publishing this “Rethinking Lifestyle” column about seven years ago we were careful not to use climate-change language for fear of alienating readers too quickly. But since then some things have changed. First, as Homer-Dixon says, “Scientific evidence from around the world has been accumulating relentlessly, and this evidence points to a clear conclusion: climate change is real, humans are causing it, and it’s an enormous threat.” And second, I now feel free to write about it in this column.

Of course there is a steady stream of cynicism circulating in the media saying that the Paris Accord hasn’t changed anything; that it simply was an expensive gab-fest by world elites. But such voices increasingly sound like the last gasp of an old guard.

One sign that much has changed is that Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, was in Paris as head of the Financial Stability Board to announce a new global task force with a mandate to find ways of identifying business risks that companies face due to climate change.

And there are signs that energy companies around the world, now heavily invested in fossil fuels, are admitting to a new reality. Cenovus, a company deeply immersed in the Canadian oil sands, recently stated, “Cenovus shares the public’s concern that climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Our product is part of the problem.”

And it was hard to miss the fact that there were mayors of 1000 cities around the world present in Paris who committed to working toward sourcing 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources as soon as possible. This is good news because it indicates that local governments around the world are already acting boldly to tackle climate change with or without a global accord.

Prime Minister Trudeau got it right when he stated recently that “People want to do more. But they want to know that what they are doing fits into a bigger picture.”

What the Paris Accord does is give all of us at the local level framework within which to do our part to limit our carbon footprint. And that includes our city, our municipalities, our churches, our businesses and all of us as individuals. What part will you have in this local challenge that has global implications?

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