January 10, 2008

[Letter] We need to act NOW

The following is a letter I wrote to the Member of Parliament for my riding in Edmonton.

Dear Mr. Jaffer,

It is with extreme frustration that I write to you today. For years now there has been a global consensus on the crucial need to curb our carbon emissions. Yet today, not only has Canada seemingly DONE NOTHING to confront the issue, but we are actually moving in the wrong direction (at least according to a number of prominent environmental organizations – such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and the Pembina Institute)!

Hence my dismay this morning when ...[click on link below to expand to full post] I heard on the news that all ten tar sands companies that were recently assessed by the Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund ALL failed miserably in their performance. THEY ALL FAILED, Jaffer! And we both know that it’s not just the companies to blame! Rob Powell of the World Wildlife Fund confirmed this: “The government has taken rather a laissez-faire approach to regulating this industry, relying too heavily on voluntary efforts by the company. And in many cases, the companies haven't chosen to do those things. They haven't established targets for reducing their emissions, for example."

We know that the climate change crisis is one that can’t be left solely to corporations enacting sound environmental practices - the politico-economic structure we have here in Canada has absolutely no incentives for companies to act as stewards of the environment. But not only do we need to create incentives, at this point we will need to FORCE companies and individuals to stop killing our planet. Why should we not consider such devastation as a crime? We need climate change legislation, not just economic incentives.

I know things move slowly in our Canadian parliament - I was originally from Ottawa and I saw the snail pace of politics when I lived there. However, we have no time to waste. As a recent article by Bill McKibben explains, the world reached a level of homeostasis before the industrial revolution with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels sitting at 275 parts per million. For the last few years we thought the upper limit was 450 parts per million before the damage becomes irreversible, but new studies show that 350 parts per million is a limit we would be wise not to surpass. Well, guess what we’re at today Rahim? WE’RE AT 383 PARTS PER MILLION!!! We need to stop now, there’s no time for pussyfooting around here - we seriously need to curb emissions.

We need to stop focusing so much on what China’s emissions are, or what the US has to say. Canada needs to set the global example by curbing our emissions NOW, and if that is to be our goal, we need powerful environmental legislation NOW. Mr. Jaffer, don’t you want Canada to be an example? Aren’t you embarrassed that we were singled out as an international pariah of climate change when we were awarded the Fossil Award by the global community at the UN Climate Summit last November?

Mr. Jaffer, I know that on a personal level, you are a genuinely good, thoughtful and caring person. I know this because I have met you and I used to work for your wonderful family at the Artisan Bakery. I know that if it was up to you, and you had a snap-of-the-finger solution available, you wouldn’t even think twice about it. I also know it’s not easy to be a politician in this era – especially due to the climate change issue. But won’t you admit, once you step back and look at the big picture objectively, that we’re failing miserably when it comes to climate change? If you could take a minute to imagine you were just an everyday citizen like me who had to rate our federal government’s actions on global warming – wouldn’t you also be extremely frustrated and angry that it appears that absolutely nothing concrete has been done, and that the rest of the world thinks we're setting back progress?

Well, luckily you are in a special position: you are in a position of power, and you have some sway – at least much more than the rest of us! But with that power comes responsibility, as you know. And so it is with this in mind that I ask you, I plead you, PLEASE- let’s get going here! We need to act now!

One of your constituents

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