Elizabeth May on climate inequality
The Green Party leader has been working on the climate change agenda since 1986, but she’s still hopeful.
In the latest in the University of British Columbia’s inequality series, put on by the Liu Institute for Global Issues, Green Party leader Elizabeth May issued a call to action for the new Liberal government ahead of the Paris Climate Change Conference at the end of the month.
“The status quo has the benefit of inertia,” May told the audience, “and change takes courage. The negotiations that will open November 30 in my view are really [the] last chance to have a treaty that avoids levels of climate crises that are so severe that I don’t know how we can look our children in the face.”
May recounted her long involvement in Canada’s history of action – and inaction – on combating climate change, start with her time working with the government of Brian Mulroney.
She explained that we are facing two equality issues when it comes to the environment. The first, and most profound, is intergenerational inequality – tackling the fact “our society is very poor at thinking forward…thinking beyond the next election…beyond the next quarterly report.” The most important part of the discussion should be asking what our generation owes to future generations.
The second equality issue, says May, is that the climate crisis has been created by the industrialized world, “full stop.” Industrialized nations must take the reigns and help to create a treaty that would take into account that the poorest nations need help countering the effects of severe weather, rising sea levels, etc.
The Green Party leader is encouraged by many of the moves that Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are making, but thinks they need to hear from every Canadians that it is not enough to “have better words” and to say the days of the Harper government are over.
“If we want to strike a blow for global equality, and if we want to do something for intergenerational equity, then you’ve got 20 days. We’ve got 20 days to convince our new government to go to the climate negations and make a real difference, not just to be better than we once were, but to be the best we can be, to show up with meaningful commitments for climate action, meaningful commitments for global equality, meaningful commitments for intergenerational equity.”