Researcher Reflections #4: May the Stars Align

Monday, August 3, 2015
Continuing our series of reflections from the research team, Ann Dale shares why she is hopeful that the stars are alligning for a meaningful agreement in Paris this December. Ann is the Principal Investigator on MC3.

I am hopeful that we are reaching critical tipping points with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Pope’s recent encyclical, and his follow-up efforts on convening mayors of major cities, is only one of many important leaders now stepping up to the plate. We have the unprecedented agreement between China and the United States, led by President Obama, who seems committed to leaving a legacy in his last term in office. The heir to the British throne is calling for an end to ‘business as usual’ and has stated that ‘profound changes’ to the global economic system are needed to avert environmental catastrophe. Business leaders are also stepping up to the plate, Ikea has recently pledged $1 billion to fight climate change, Tesla and Toyota are also making commitments to name only a few.  


We even have more conservative media such as The Economist advocating for the end to fossil fuel subsidies, the International Monetary Fund claiming trickle down economics doesn’t work, and here in Canada the McGill project led by Dr. Catherine Potvin released their Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, an unprecedented consensus from 60 + Canadian scientists.  Astoundingly, the Dutch court has ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020, a landmark case. This reduction target is below the standard deemed necessary by climate science. Here are some key portions from the ruling. Following Dutch footsteps, activists intend to sue the Australian Government.


So we have religious, business, civil society leaders and quasi-institutional organizations now stepping up to the climate change plate. And we have remarkable innovations happening in all sectors—the building sector, transportation,  strategic partnerships, new nation state alignments, young people speaking out, new organizations, scientists speaking out—evidence for democracy, new movements such as degrowth, the sharing economy, 1%, for the Planet,  Idle No More, basic income, and I have only touched on a few of the people, groups and organizations calling for change. Many of us believe that a carbon neutral economy is not only necessary but achievable by 2050.


Where my hope falters is knowing that we depend upon unprecedented political leadership going into the United Nations Climate talks in Paris in December 2015 to reach meaningful obligations, targets and deadlines to limit the global average temperature increase to 2 degrees. Are we capable of more? Science tells us so, we now need political will. What gives me hope, again, is how many people, how many groups, how many researchers are mobilizing. The global people’s climate march on November 29th, 2015 in Paris may astound our leaders. Check out Pathway to Paris. Our time is now.


May the stars align, November 30th to December 11th, 2015.