Sober thoughts contemplating climate change

December 4, 2015

The opinion columns I have been reading recently about climate change have been sobering but for new reasons.

I used to find them sobering because they too often included a nod to the skeptics.  They always seemed to be hedging their bets.  It felt like they had to wait to see where the winds of public opinion would turn before making a commitment.

Well the winds of change have swept across Canada. Public opinion has shifted and our politicians have flown to Paris.  This is all great news.

The opinion columns are sobering today because they are beginning to reveal the significant challenge we face.  It is not going to be easy to achieve the targets recommended by the scientific community. Columnists are starting to understand this.  They are digging into data that has been collected for years that measures what sectors our emissions are coming from. When you start to line up these sectors with available solutions, you start to see the gaps.

Sober thoughts but they are precisely the uncomfortable conversations we need.

Canada also seems at risk of having our own mini-version of past UN climate talks as federal, provincial and territorial governments figure out how to work together on the climate change agenda.

And while this is not new, local governments are still not sufficiently part of the developing story among opinion columnists.  Many of the solutions being discussed by upper orders of government are under the direct influence of local governments.

Local governments have seen so many new responsibilities downloaded to them over the last 20 years. I find it remarkable how many cities and towns are playing a key role in fighting climate change given everything else that vies for their attention.  One of our strategies in Canada must be to enable local governments to do even more.