Ten reasons to be hopeful about climate action

Flower growing from the road

Along with feelings of grief and fear about climate change, there are reasons for hoping that Canada can ramp up its climate ambition to help the critical global mission to limit warming to maintain a livable climate.

Advocating for climate action can be discouraging and demoralizing at times. Grief, fear and injustice are woven into the harsh reality of a changing climate. It’s real, and we’re not here to dismiss it with toxic positivity.

But there are good reasons to hope that we can increase Canada’s climate ambition and get on track to doing our fair share in the global effort to prevent climate catastrophe. So, let’s dive in.

Solar panels and wind turbine

The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly

In 2019, jaws dropped when a report by International Renewable Energy Agency demonstrated that unsubsidized renewable energy in most circumstances became the cheapest source of energy generation. Then, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020 declared solar power the cheapest source of electricity in history. In addition, the cost of energy storage has dropped by more than 90 per cent over the past 10 years. These lower costs will continue to propel mass adoption of renewables and will make them available for many people.

People marching in street

Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action

In 2019, climate marches were held around the world, including Canada. People came out in record numbers to urge governments, businesses, communities and individuals to get serious about addressing the climate emergency. COVID-19 put a pause on these rallies but not the sense of urgency and importance to address climate change. Public opinion polls show that even in the face of the pandemic, a vast majority of Canadians are concerned about climate change and want to see action. More than 65,000 people have taken climate action this year with the David Suzuki Foundation alone!

Youth climate litigants

The kids are all right. The youth climate movement is not backing down

Greta Thunberg gained worldwide attention for her climate activism, but she wasn’t the first or only youth climate advocate. Canada has its own young, inspiring climate leaders who are finding new ways to push for climate justice, fight for their future and find community and sense of purpose through their efforts.

By no means should we let young activists do all the work. Instead we can lift them up, support their court cases, share their stories, hear their calls to action and follow their lead.

Federal building

The Supreme Court affirmed that climate change is an emergency

In a recent ruling, Canada’s Supreme Court affirmed that “climate change is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world.” The ruling recognizes that “a provincial failure to act directly threatens Canada as a whole.” It confirmed that the federal government has the authority to move ahead throughout the country to address the climate emergency.

Indigenous person with solar panels

Indigenous communities are taking energy and climate issues into their own hands

Indigenous Peoples are well-positioned to take leadership on climate because of their ecological knowledge, deep connection to the environment and lived experiences with the impacts of climate change and environmental racism. Brave land and water defenders have long been on the front lines of the climate movement, protecting their traditional territories from fossil fuel expansion.

Not waiting for outside action, many Indigenous communities are also championing their own transition to renewable energy in unique, creative and culturally appropriate ways.

Indigenous Climate Action is “reinforcing their place as leaders in climate change discourse and driving solutions for today and tomorrow.” APTN’s TV series Power to the People explores the Indigenous renewable energy revolution. Both provide optimism and hope and deserve respect and gratitude.

Person writing on documents

Canada has a strengthened climate plan and significant funding to implement it

In December 2020, the federal government released a detailed climate plan that outlines strong policies and actions to drive down Canada’s emissions. Although it doesn’t go far enough, it includes significant measures that Canada can implement as we continue to push for greater ambition. The plan makes polluters pay, supports clean tech development and brings in cleaner transportation and fuel standards. The climate plan also got significant funding from the federal government to support its implementation, so there is optimism in our ability to finally begin reducing emissions in Canada.

Urban rooftop gardening

Cities and towns are demonstrating leadership in climate action

Throughout the country, cities and towns are declaring climate emergencies and bringing in ambitious climate plans. Municipalities can legislate actions that affect about 45 per cent of our national emissions. By regulating land use, encouraging building retrofits and energy efficiency, enabling electric vehicle charging and active transportation and introducing road pricing and carbon budgets, cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and Montreal are tackling the climate crisis while creating livable and healthy urban spaces.

Young engineer man with face mask looking and checking wind turbines at field during pandemic

The U.S. has stepped up its ambition and is normalizing bold action

In 2019, when U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to get legislation passed for a Green New Deal, the climate and social justice goals and policies contained in it were widely seen to be radical and extreme. Now, President Joe Biden is rolling out some of these very same policies and committing to the deal’s goals and ambitions. Because the U.S. is Canada’s largest trade partner, its climate action will propel us forward with our own.

Person checking solar panels

Climate action creates millions of jobs — and everyone wants jobs

Decarbonizing our economy is no small feat and will require a significant amount of work in retrofits for energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation and technological innovation. This will create millions of well-paying, long-term, sustainable jobs in communities across the country.

For workers and communities affected by the decrease in employment in the fossil fuel industry, we need to ensure a just transition that provides the training and support necessary as this industry winds down. It’s important to consider that fossil fuel jobs are already on the decline and now represent less than one per cent of the Canadian workforce, and for every job lost in fossil fuels over the past six years, the Canadian economy created 42 jobs.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, which represents energy workers, is supporting bolder climate action, as long as there’s a transition plan.

Climate justice now!

Centering equity in climate action will help address systemic causes and interconnected injustices

The term climate justice is becoming more commonplace as people increasingly recognize that climate change is not just an environmental problem; it’s a social, moral and equity problem as well. Historically marginalized people such as Indigenous people, people of colour and people living in poverty contribute the least to the problem but suffer the most from the impacts of climate disruption. Coming to terms with this reality is big step toward addressing the systemic causes of climate change.

Canadians are asking for climate action that decreases these inequities and creates more stable jobs, healthier communities and a more just society that brings everyone along.

Canada’s progress on climate change continues to be dangerously slow. We have not set a target ambitious enough to do our fair share to address the climate crisis. Over the past decade, Canada was the only country in the G7 whose emissions continued to climb. Even as our climate ambition increases, we continue to invest in expanding oil and gas infrastructure rather than managing the industry’s inevitable and necessary decline.

Our collective call for urgent, bold and ambitious climate action is essential. The reasons for hope outlined here indicate to us that the opportunity is here to finally start driving down emissions and begin the transition to a clean, just and renewable future.

Call for urgent, bold and ambitious climate action now