Vote for Climate Leadership

canada-election-leaders-610pxOn our Actions page we suggest voting for a stable climate in the federal election on October 19. But as that date approaches we think this message deserves more emphasis.

Recent polling suggests that the economy tops the list of Canadians’ ballot box concerns, far ahead of the environment, which is second. This reflects our natural tendency to prioritize current problems, like the state of the economy, over those with long-term consequences, like climate change. Politicians recognize this and we tend to reward them for short-term thinking and a lack of visionary leadership. This can lead to disaster if, like climate change, the problem requires urgent action now to avoid big problems later.  So a vote for sound climate policy means voting for long-term thinking and responsible leadership. Specifically, we need to react to the long-term threat of climate change now by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions quickly, in time to avoid a variety of catastrophic tipping points that scientists tell us are becoming more likely by the moment.

We know something about what the parties propose to do about climate change at the national level, including limiting pipeline construction, investing in clean energy, and pricing carbon. Summaries of their relevant policy statements are here and here, and some deeper analysis is here. We are non-partisan so we won’t say which candidates we prefer in this region. But you can ask them what they (and their parties) will do to slow climate change. Then decide for yourself.

The election, coincidentally, occurs just before the final UN climate summit in Paris that is expected to produce the agreement to replace the Kyoto accord. Canada has already submitted its proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This may not be ambitious enough and some parties have promised to increase our commitment. Another problem with Canada’s submission is that there is no plan included to accomplish this goal. One question for the candidates is therefore: How will your target be achieved?

In Central Nova, including the Town of Antigonish and western parts of Antigonish County, you can find out what your candidates think by attending an all-candidates “conversation” on Thursday, October 15 (7-9 pm at St. Andrew Junior School), hosted by the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre.  Climate change is one topic on the agenda.

In Cape Breton Canso, which now includes the part of Antigonish County east of Antigonish Harbour and the South River, an all-candidates debate has already happened (September 30) but another will be hosted by CBC radio at the Big Pond Fire Hall on Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm, with all questions to come from the audience. Look for a podcast of the event at Information Morning Cape Breton.

To find out when, where and how to vote, visit the Elections Canada website.

by Jay Ross

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