It feels like we have been celebrating for weeks now — well, actually, we have as we took in all the events for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Easter as well.
The WSSF was quite a different beast this year with fresh snow on many days and a huge snowy jump for the Gibbons Style Session last weekend.
But let's not allow this year's awesome winter weather make us forget that in the previous years, there has been very little snow in the village for events — those years remind us that climate change is here to stay.
This Saturday, April 22, the world celebrates Earth Day.
This time last year, everyone was caught up in the signing of the historic Paris climate change accord. You may recall that this is an accord agreed to by nearly 200 countries in December 2015. It came into force on Nov. 4, 2016. The agreement commits world leaders to keeping global warming below 2 C, seen as the threshold for safety by scientists, and pursuing a tougher target of 1.5 C. The carbon emission curbs put forward by countries under the Paris Agreement are not legally binding but are the framework of the accord, which includes a mechanism for periodically cranking those pledges up, is binding. The agreement also has a long-term goal for net-zero emissions, which would effectively phase out fossil fuels.
This week, we are hearing the disturbing news that the U.S. might actually go through with President Donald Trump's campaign promise to "cancel" the agreement.
All may not be lost on this front in the U.S. as Paris Agreement rules state that now that the agreement has entered into force, it takes three years under its terms for a party to withdraw, followed by a one-year waiting period — a length roughly equal to Trump's first term in office!
Even China — one of the world's greatest polluters — seems to be coming around. At the World Economic Forum earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping is reported to have said, "The Paris Agreement is a hard-won achievement which is in keeping with the underlying tend of global development.
"All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations."
China has said that it will spend $360 billion dollars over the next few years investing in renewable energy sources.
What about here at home?Last December, Canada passed a major milestone when the government released the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This should be an effective foundation for change, and a move that would put the nation within striking distance of its 2030 greenhouse gas target.
Here in B.C., we are heading for the May 9 provincial election — another place citizens can make their voices heard on climate concerns.
The B.C. Liberals' platform is status quo and offers plans to expand fossil fuel production within the province. Analysis of B.C.'s Climate Leadership Plan by the Pembina Institute suggests the province will miss its 2020 emissions reductions target and likely its 2050 target as well. This failure is due in large part to the decision by the B.C. government not to implement the 32 recommendations prescribed by the Climate Leadership Team that the government itself assembled. Plans continue for the Site C dam, the LNG/fracking industry continues to expand, and the freeze on the carbon tax will continue to 2021.
The BC NDP is vowing to reduce carbon pollution, gradually increase B.C.'s federally mandated carbon price, ensure changes are affordable, invest in expanding clean energy solutions, and regulate carbon pollution sector by sector. In the first 100 days, the NDP says it would create a new Climate Leadership Team. The party says it would also invest a portion of the carbon tax into reducing emissions and perhaps funding public transport and other green technologies.
The NDP says it also wants to issue a climate-action rebate cheque for low- and middle-income families. Right now, about 40 per cent of households get a rebate cheque. Under the NDP, that would go up to 80 per cent.
The Green Party's platform would see the reinstatement of the annual increases to the provincial carbon tax incentive. The party is promising to raise the province's carbon tax by $10 per year for four years beginning in 2018, surpassing the federal government's requirement for provincial carbon pricing policies to achieve a price of $50 per tonne of emissions by 2022. A green provincial government would also increase the amount of investment into public transit and also cycling infrastructure; it would legislate a zero-emission vehicle standard and be more welcoming to industries such as wind and solar power operations.
Earth Day is really every day in today's world. Keep that in mind as you head to the polls next month.