By Pumudu K.
Being the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass, Canada is in a unique position when it comes to climate change. With vast Arctic areas to the North, the continued rise in temperatures on Earth puts Canada in a perilous position. With the rise of the anti-scientific rhetoric from the south of the Canadian border by Those-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the significance of Canada’s actions regarding climate change policy are now of even more importance.
But, before 2015, Canada’s efforts of combating climate change left a lot to be desired. Despite being a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol of 2004, the Stephen Harper government was inactive on adhering to its agreements, going so far as to pull out of the UN process in 2011. At the same time, the liberal policies of the Barack Obama administration in the US were taking the lead on the global stage in climate change awareness.
All this changed in 2015 with the election of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. Since then, Canada has been the antithesis of the previous Conservative government, as well as the current U.S. government. Indeed, Canada sent more delegates to the Paris climate conference than the U.S. and U.K. combined.
But while this change in attitude, and policy which has been a welcome relief to liberal-minded Canadians, there is still much to be done. Last month, more than 250 scientists wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, with a warning regarding climate change inaction.
The scientists described that there is a crisis looming for Canada’s climate and atmospheric research, and the consequences of which will be dire for the world itself. The main concern in the letter, presented by the Ottawa-based Evidence for Democracy, is that the funding for research from Canada’s Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) is set to end this year. The CCAR provides projects which look at long-term views on issues such as snow, sea-ice cover, climate, temperature, and other important indicators of climate change.
The Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, believes the Trudeau government has an enviable record on climate change awareness. She stated that the Federal government is fully aware of the importance of the Arctic in its plans for addressing climate change. Speaking of this issue, she said “as the Arctic matters now more than ever because of climate change, we are working to move forward on an Arctic Policy Framework in which science will play a key role. This will be a whole of government approach to the Arctic, one that includes Indigenous voices and the role of traditional knowledge.”
While it’s clear that Canada has made a momentous change in climate awareness policy, it is also clear than the current government must do more to be a genuine leader on the world stage when it comes to environmental issues. Since Canada’s economy also benefits from the production of fossil fuel-based energy, this will be a particularly tricky path for the Trudeau government to tread. One thing is for sure though, that the actions of this government will be perhaps even more scrutinized than the previous one when it comes to climate change, and that can only be good for the democratic process and transparency.
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