The Climate Crisis: A Federal Election Issue
October 16, 2019
The climate crisis is a pressing issue not only in the federal election, but for the future of the planet.
It’s clear that the climate crisis is an important issue for many people. Following the lead of incredible activists like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, climate strikes have been taking place around the world in recent weeks. Check out Greta’s remarks at the UN General Assembly.
So, what role should the Canadian government play and how should they respond to the crisis?
What is the climate crisis?
The global scientific community is in overwhelming agreement: the earth’s climate is warming. But there is far less agreement when it comes to what actions we must take to reverse the damage.
The general agreement is that the damage to our planet is largely a result of greenhouse gases caused by human activities and the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuels include coal, crude oil, and natural gas.
While average temperatures around the globe are forecast to continue rising, climate change doesn’t always look the same in every part of the world. So, what kind of damage are we talking about when we say ‘climate crisis’?
- Shrinking glaciers.
- River and lake ice breaking up earlier each year.
- Shifting animal and plant behaviour.
- Loss of sea ice.
- Rising sea levels.
- Longer, more intense heat waves.
How much do Canadians rely on the fossil fuel industry?
It’s a complicated issue in Canada: we rely heavily on fossil fuel products and they play a major role in our economy. In 2018, energy exports totalled $132.2 billion dollars.
That’s 23% of the country’s total annual exports.
Of that, $119 billion is a result of oil and gas exports, mostly to the United States.
Many jobs are tied to the fossil fuel industry as well. This makes it difficult to just shut down the industry completely. No doubt, the actions needed to address the climate crisis would mean huge changes to the industry, its jobs, and the way we live our lives.
But the climate crisis is also hurting the economy.
Changing weather patterns have increased the frequency and strength of tornadoes and hurricanes, and caused other weather phenomena as well. That means lives lost, property damaged, and livelihoods destroyed.
- Heat waves and health care effects.
- Storm damage and personal out-of-pocket expenses to repair and rebuild.
- Crop damage from early heat or late frosts, droughts, and more.
- Job loss when farms can’t hire workers and businesses can’t open.
In turn, this all affects a number of industries. Insurance companies, for example, face massive payouts to people, companies, and to workers like farmers after they lose crops. That, in turn, can raise premiums as well. In 2017, the global economic loss from natural disasters totaled about $340 billion US. That’s the second highest annual figure for this ever. And, 83% of those losses were in North America.
What about Clean Energy?
Switching to clean energy would help us get away from fossil fuel reliance, plus it would create new jobs and grow the clean energy industry. As of 2017, Canada’s clean energy sector employed 298,000 people. Other research revealed that taxpayers fork over $1.3 billion in subsidies to the oil industry. This same research concluded that those subsidies resulted in less than 3,000 jobs being created. That same amount of money spent in the clean energy sector could have created between 18,000 and 20,000 jobs. You can read more on clean energy jobs here.
What does it all mean?
UFCW Locals 175 & 633 advocates for actions that protect both our environment and jobs. These actions need to happen to ensure we have a healthy planet and ecosystem for future generations. These actions must also be well thought out and receive the full support of our government so that working people don’t get left behind by a faltering industry and a planet in crisis.
So, when you head to the polls on October 21, please review your options carefully and get informed about your candidate’s opinion on the things that matter to you and the future you want to leave for your children.
Visit elections.ca for information on where and how to vote. Read more about other issues to consider in the federal election such as Universal Pharma Care.