Researcher Reflections #2: I am feeling optimistic...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Continuing our series of reflections from researchers involved in MC3, Eric Brown shares why he is feeling optimistic about the prospect of a meaningful deal in Paris this December. Eric is a Master of Urban Studies Candidate at Simon Fraser University with a focus on sustainable community planning for small towns. 

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems there is a lot to be optimistic about leading up to COP21 in Paris this December. It seems like there is momentum to make significant commitments to decarbonize the economy and meaningfully address the threat of anthropogenic climate change.

I am feeling optimistic because I see a diversity of actors coalescing around the climate change agenda. No longer is this a movement dominated by scientists and environmentalists (they’re still there), but increasingly we hear unexpected voices calling for action.

Take, for example, a recent meeting in downtown Calgary, AB, hosted by the EcoFiscal Commission. This event brought together a diversity of stakeholders, including major players in Alberta’s oil sands. A consensus emerged from the meeting that in order to significantly reduce emissions, Alberta needs a broad-based tax on carbon like that which is in place in BC. Suncor’s CEO called on policy makers to “stop talking and take action,” explaining foot dragging in Alberta on the issue has impeded market acquisition in a world that is increasingly concerned about climate change. We can add his voice to a growing list of large corporate interests that are calling for action on climate change leading up to Paris.

Last month’s encyclical, delivered by Pope Francis, is another example of the growing range of voices that are calling for action on climate change. The Pope lends a moral voice to the cause, calling on the world’s one billion Catholics to support decarbonisation. The pope encyclical was followed by a supportive statement from the Dalai Lama who called on other religious leaders to “speak out about current affairs which affect the future of mankind.”

The divestment movement that I have written about here is another example of the broad spectrum of interests that are coalescing around climate change action. From universities to banking institutions, a range of voices is harmonizing on the issue of fossil fuel divestment.  Recently, a group of senior health professionals, along with other doctors, nurses and academics asked the Welcome Trust to decarbonize its investment portfolio. Among this group are the editors of the leading medical journals, the BMJ and the Lancet. Even Prince Charles is wading into the divestment movement.

While BC sweats under record breaking heat, the general public also seems to finally recognize that climate change is taking place. We’re concerned about dwindling snow pack, our water reservoirs and salmon bearing streams and, hopefully, we’re willing to vote for leaders who will do something about it in Paris this December.