The climate is changing. As parents, we know the window to ensure our children’s future is one where they can thrive instead of merely survive closes at the end of this decade. The climate policies enacted now will decide the fate of our kids, and the Canadian government is not doing enough to keep them safe. So far, Canada has missed every single target it has ever set to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
We are not on track to meet our Paris Agreement commitment, either. This is why members of For Our Kids — a national network of concerned parents working to drive urgent climate action — want a strengthened Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12), one that's in line with climate science. We are calling on every parent and grandparent to tell our government to strengthen Bill C-12 so our kids will have a better chance at a livable future.
While the bill is a first in Canada to set climate targets into law, parents and experts worry it could be too little, too late. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the next 10 years are the most critical for action. Yet the first target in Canada’s act won’t come until 2030 — when my infant son will be 10 years old — and the bill doesn’t require the government to set that target until months after the bill passes.
In order to avoid catastrophic consequences of climate change, we need to cut emissions in half by 2030. We don’t have 10 years to wait. We need accountability much sooner, and a bold action plan now.
A 2018 report by the IPCC says that in order to have the best chance at a livable world, we need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. To do so will require cutting emissions by 45 per cent below 2010 levels by the year 2030. Canada’s emissions reduction target for 2030 is a mere 30 per cent below 2005 levels — and we are not even on track to meet that.
Despite dire warnings from the IPCC, we are currently headed for three degrees of warming by 2100, and are likely to hit two degrees of warming by mid-century. To give you an idea of what that means, at an increase of just two degrees the oceans are projected to acidify, coral reefs will be wiped out, one-third of the world’s population will experience severe heat waves with increasing frequency and global crop yields will drop. My son will be entering his 30s when this unthinkable scenario plays out.
We are in a climate emergency, and our kids are the ones who have the most to lose if our government fails to take meaningful action. Children are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change and are more susceptible to heat waves, air pollution and the impacts of extreme weather events than adults. With air pollution recently estimated to have caused a staggering 18 per cent of all global deaths in 2018, children with respiratory illnesses like asthma are of particular concern.
There is still hope for real change, but only if enough people tell their MPs they want serious climate accountability now. With enough public pressure, the bill could be amended, and we could join the ranks of other countries that have implemented effective climate accountability laws — New Zealand, the U.K., Germany, Sweden — all of which are seeing emissions decrease.
In order for the bill to align with science and bring about the necessary reduction in emissions, we need the following amendments:
- A 2025 milestone so the government is held accountable now, not in 10 years
- An increased 2030 target — enshrined in law — to align with the IPCC recommendation of cutting emissions by 45 per cent below 2010 levels
- Five-year carbon budgets to keep on track
- A clear legal duty to reach set targets so that they endure governments of the future
- True accountability by ensuring that independent climate experts — not a multi-stakeholder group — have robust roles in setting targets, reviewing progress and reporting to the public
If there were ever a time to make your voice heard for the sake of your children, this is the moment. The bill is expected to pass into law soon. We must act quickly. Call, write and meet with your MPs. We must ensure this accountability act is aligned with science and truly accountable to our children's futures.
With enough public pressure, Bill C-12 could be amended and Canada would join the ranks of other countries that have implemented effective climate accountability laws, writes Brianne Whyte of @ForOurKidsTO #StrengthenC12 #ClimateAction
It’s time for parents to step up and demand better for our kids.
Who’s with me?
Brianne Whyte is a teacher, parent and organizer with For Our Kids, a national network of parents and grandparents working to drive urgent climate action.