03/18/2016 03:02 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 05:12 EDT

Last Month We Passed The Climate 'Red Line'


Last month the world hit a worrying milestone.

For the first time in recorded history, perhaps the first time in the course of human history temperatures in the northern hemisphere passed 2 degrees C above 'normal'.

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.

In Paris, 198 leaders pledged to keep global temperature rise below the 2-degree mark and to aspire to stabilize global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (a level vital for the survival of millions of people around the planet). The fact that we have already breached the mark shows us that the time for action is short and getting shorter.

If the 2-degree breech wasn't worrying enough, a recent study from researchers at the University of Queensland, showed that if emissions don't drop quickly the world will have blown its chance to stabilize temperature rise below 1.5 as soon as 2020, and could lose its chance at 2 degrees as early as 2029.

That's a pretty short timeline to right the global ship.

What these planetary signs mean is that we need to start acting now. We can't afford any moves that deepen the problem and we need increased leadership from every jurisdiction at every level of government.

Canada and the provinces, just like other jurisdictions around the world, need to do more to speed the transition to 100% renewables. This transition can't afford new pipelines that would add millions of tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere and it can't afford years of talking and stalling.

If Canada is back in the climate leadership game now is the time to show it. Canada renewable transition will take leadership, and leadership is shown by the hard choices.

Those hard choices mean leaving carbon in the ground, ditching the pipelines and moving away from existing fossil fuel production to renewables and sustainable transportation as quickly as possible.

While those choices will create some hardships they also bring tremendous opportunities. Opportunities to bring clean energy to communities across the country that everyone can benefit from and participate in. Opportunities to create jobs - the Canadian Labour Congress recently showed the government could create one million of them through clean energy investment. Opportunities to improve the health of our communities and opportunities to clean our water, strengthen our economy, and I need to mention, help save all life on our planet.

While opportunities are great and need is even greater, we know there are powerful interests that are holding our governments back. Our governments need us to push them to do more because everyday oil companies are pushing them to do less.

We need to become the intervening force that allows our government to live up to the science and take the action our world so desperately needs.

The fate of this world is up to us, but at a time where we can literally print out solar panels the pathway forward couldn't be clearer.

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