The Green New Deal travels north
On Monday, people across Canada rallied in support of the environment. It was the first salvo for the Pact for a Green New Deal by a coalition of more than 60 organizations — as well as celebrities such as k.d. lang, William Shatner and David Suzuki — pushing to make climate action a priority in the upcoming federal election.
Brendan Pietrobon spoke to Concordia University professor Damon Matthews, who was recruited by the Pact to speak to the scientific basis for climate action proposed in the Green New Deal.
What inspired this movement?
One is the U.S. version of the Green New Deal that has been gaining some traction. The other is in Quebec — Le pacte pour la transition launched in November of last year. It’s a similar idea — trying to develop a groundswell of support for social and economic transition in light of the climate challenge. Le pacte … has almost 300,000 signatories to date, mostly within the francophone community in Quebec.
What are the goals of the Pact for a Green New Deal?
It’s not meant to be a set of policy prescriptions at this point, but more an acknowledgement that we face challenges and that Canada as a country is not providing the kind of climate leadership that we could be. The premise of it is that we need to limit climate change to within a safe regime. Yes, that involves meeting our obligations to the Paris agreement, dramatically strengthening our national emissions targets. In order to be aligned with the Paris agreement, we should be targeting something like a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
What are Canada’s unique challenges?
The challenge for us is finding a way to move away from oil and gas as a fundamental part of our economy, while not leaving people behind who are dependent on that industry for their livelihoods.
The starting point, honestly, is a flat-out acknowledgement that the future of oil and gas is limited — and we haven’t had that conversation at the political level in Canada hardly at all. The conversation right now is still that oil and gas is going to be an important driver of our economy for the next several decades. That narrative fundamentally assumes that we do not take climate mitigation seriously. MORE