Avoid ‘global suicide’

With the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference only six weeks away, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, addressed a crowd at the University of Waterloo on Saturday about the importance of Canada taking action.

The Copenhagen conference marks the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which developed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

“We must reduce greenhouse gasses … to reach a new equilibrium in the atmosphere … [that] does not constitute a danger zone,” said May, when explaining the growing problem of climate change.

The dangers climate change inflict on populations around the globe now pose issues of human security with increases in environmental disasters and food and water shortages.
Canada’s role in the global issue of climate change has been fleeting since the Kyoto Accord, which was ratified in 2002.

“We used to have a role in the world that was larger than our numerical population,” said May.
Despite pressures from the United States not to, Canada has failed to live up to its promised targets of lowering GHG emissions six per cent below 1990 levels.

“As soon as Harper was elected, he cancelled every single climate change measure that had been put in place by the previous government,” said May.

With GHG levels rising from 280 parts per million (ppm) prior to the industrial revolution, to 380 ppm today, the negative impact on the environment can no longer be ignored.

May reiterated research that calls for GHG levels to stabilize by 2016 or else risk escalation beyond repair, during which environmental crises she described would become a reality.

“It’s hard to understand how human civilization will function if all the areas that currently grow food become dust bowls, if we lose water supplies in vast areas of the planet, if we have millions and millions of environmental refugees seeking somewhere safe to live.”

As the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012, May feels that a new and tougher agreement needs to be laid out.

“If its not, we’re talking about global suicide and I think the human species is far too smart to engage in global suicide.”

May highlighted the driving influence youth have had on the issue of climate change in starting organizations and participating in policy-making.

“When there’s a lot of youth in the room, they hold a really strong moral force to make sure that the negotiators remember what’s at stake.”

May believes that support from all Canadians is still needed, however, to pressure the government into taking a greater role in coming to an agreement that will lead to positive changes.

“Do everything you can every single day to ensure that there’s maximum pressure and that the Canadian public at the end … will know that real action is required, that real change is coming,” said May.