May is on track to be the 12th consecutive hottest month globally ever recorded. The day the fires raced into Fort McMurray, Alta., set 24 different temperature records, including a record-breaking 32.6 degrees Celsius in Fort McMurray (20 degrees above normal) and a scorching 4.8 degrees above the previous record set in 1945. These tinder-dry conditions helped lead to one of the earliest wildfire seasons in Alberta's history and fuelled the fire that raged through the city.
At 27 years old at the time, I had never lived through a month of below-average global temperatures. The second was the realization that Stephen Harper had been my prime minister for all of my adult life. Taken together, these painted a striking portrait of the challenge ahead -- the pervasive climate crisis.
Raising the minimum wage, diversifying Alberta's economy and supporting working people have my full support, but I'm sorry Premier Notley, I just can't get behind you on pipelines. New pipelines aren't good for the environment, they aren't good for the climate, and I'm sorry, but they aren't good for working people or good governance, either.
Two degrees is the absolute red line that scientists say the world must not pass if we are to have any chance of stopping a growing climate crisis before it spins beyond our control. The 2-degree mark was only breached temporarily but it is a worrying sign that everyone, especially our elected leaders, need to pay attention to.
During the fall election, the federal Liberals committed to meet with the provinces within 90 days of COP21 negotiations in Paris to "develop a carbon pricing policy." This highly anticipated First Ministers' Meeting took place last week in Vancouver. Much like the Paris Agreement itself, the Vancouver Declaration may have been the best consensus we could have reasonably hoped for. But also like Paris, it doesn't go nearly far enough.
From Canada's early entry as a climate action leader -- hosting the world's first international scientific climate conference in 1988 -- until today, most governments have played for time. Stalling tactics and procrastination, two steps forward and one step back, have typified climate strategies. For the Trudeau administration, the clock is ticking loudly. Canada has still not replaced the weak target of the previous government. The Liberal platform promised a national plan, based on provincial consultations, within 90 days of the Paris talks, which is March 12.
Rather then talking about increasing the damage for short-term gain, Premier Wynne and Notley should be talking about how they can create jobs by collaborating on solutions. Solutions that keep carbon in the ground, create jobs, and that could benefit everyone from coast to coast to coast for generations to come. Let's make the discussion about creating good green jobs, healthy communities, and clean, renewable solutions that allow everyone to participate and benefit. It's time for Canada to build its clean energy dream not expand its tarsands nightmare.
While it's so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh at it, it's also unjust, anti-democratic and something that Canada's new prime minister promised would never happen again. Last June, now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his party's environmental platform standing with his back to the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighborhood. With a withering critique that Stephen Harper's government had "chosen to be a cheerleader instead of a referee" when it came to pipelines, he promised a complete overhaul of the National Energy Board assessment process.
Those who fear and reject change have always been and always will be with us. They've argued ending slavery would destroy the economy; they've claimed putting people on the moon would be impossible; they've rejected ending South Africa's apartheid system; they've said the Berlin wall wouldn't come down. We can and must speak louder than those who would keep us on a destructive path despite the overwhelming evidence that it's past time to shift course.
When our children's children look back to what we did to keep our planet livable, they may see this year's United Nations climate conference in Paris as a turning point. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) may have been our last chance for a meaningful agreement to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy before ongoing damage to the world's climate becomes irreversible and devastating. Government ministers, negotiators and world leaders spent the first two weeks of December creating a guide for the next stage of humanity's action on climate change.
As the dust settles on COP21 we know that while historic steps have been taken, the demands of justice are still unfulfilled. Together we are challenging the fossil fuel system, we are ushering in the era of solutions, and we are moving the political yardsticks of what it possible. While our political leaders walk, our movements run.
To most Canadians, the Arctic is a faraway and mysterious place. It's a romantic piece of our history and identity. That wildness and cold is something we're proud of, but we don't know much about. It should play a bigger role in our consciousness. The Arctic makes up almost 40 per cent of Canada's landmass and two-thirds of our coastline.
We keep hearing about the need to keep global climate change below a target of two degrees Celsius. However, few people know where this comes from. The reason for this is that the target is one of the most deliberately muddied topics in the climate change debate -- not a scientific number, but a political one.
All around the world people took to the streets to help give the earth a voice. From Mumbai to Australia, London to Berlin, Ottawa to Vancouver millions danced, sang, and marched to push our world's elected leaders, currently in Paris for COP21, to increase their ambition, listen to the science and the voices of those most impacted, and lead the world out of climate chaos.