Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner in Queen’s Park, Ontario on Dec. 6, 2018. Photo by Cole Burston for National Observer
I’ve got the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dianne Saxe on the phone. It’s late afternoon, in the dead of winter, and she’s on backcountry roads, heading north for a rare weekend off. “I might cut out,” she warns me.
Dianne’s office reports on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights, as well as Ontario’s progress on climate change, energy conservation, and other environmental issues. As a staffer at Faith & the Common Good, a national, interfaith charity with the goal of championing environmental and creation care throughout our network of diverse faith & spiritual communities, I am eager to hear directly from the mouth of the commissioner herself how faith groups measure up on the climate action front. And I’m not talking only about energy efficient light bulbs and recycling — I mean broad, transformative change. Critical action is needed immediately because climate change is happening now and, as Dianne warns in her climate report, much worse is ahead.
So, what, according to Dianne, are religious leaders contributing to the public discourse on climate?
“Not much,” is the disappointing response.
For instance, as part of the ECO’s mandate to support the public use of the Environmental Bill of Rights, Dianne’s office has carefully reviewed the thousands of comments that were submitted on the proposed Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018.
“I had my staff review most of the 11,000 comments and saw no evidence of leadership from the faith communities,” she reports. “What are the Ontario bishops and faith leaders doing?” MORE