The environment: building a more just and greener society
Climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. Here, in Canada, and around the world, the environment is undergoing dramatic changes and local populations are dealing with the consequences on a daily basis.
Scientific evidence that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise has been mounting for many years. In turn, this increase has caused various events: the melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, the increase in extreme weather events, and desertification. In light of these phenomena, we must work together more closely than ever before to build a more just and greener society at the local, national and international level.
An abysmal environmental record
Canada’s environmental record over the past 10 years has been abysmal. Canada has the worst record of the 27 wealthiest countries in the world. Under the Conservative government, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol, which sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, scientists conducting environmental research were muzzled and scientific libraries were closed. In the meantime, big oil companies received billions of dollars in public subsidies even though they are partly responsible for the degradation of our ecosystem. There is also the role of the the federal government, which voluntarily weakened environmental legislation that protects the air, water and soil, and gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Fisheries Act.
It is time to put an end to this decade of environmental degradation and to rethink our commitment to fighting climate change. It is also time to meet Canada’s international obligations with respect to the environment and to ensure the transition to a clean economy occurs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Putting a price on carbon, cutting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and investing in green energy are some of the ways this can be achieved.
At the federal level, the NDP is the only party with a concrete plan to fulfil our international climate change commitments and build a green economy. We believe that the key to sustainable economic development is economic diversification. Our current economic system is to a great extent based on the price of oil. This means that the cost of our goods and services is greatly influenced by fluctuations in the value of black gold on the market. We have seen the consequences of the drop in oil prices in Alberta. Diversifying our economy by investing in renewable energy gives us the means to be less reliant on fossil fuels and less affected by price fluctuations.
By 2020, global market demand for clean energy should reach $3 trillion, or more than $3,000 billion. At present, the employment rate in the clean technology sector is increasing by 18%, year over year. Significant investments in solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy and research has the potential to create tens of thousands of green jobs in Canada and also significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
Building a greener society at the community level
In the riding of Hochelaga, sustainable development goes hand in hand with social engagement. For many years now, there have been more and more initiatives to make our neighbourhoods more green and also to encourage citizen engagement and the social reintegration of the most marginalized.
The Lien vert, a project designed to introduce greenery to the former railway corridor from Promenade Luc-Larrivée to rue Préfontaine, and the Brigade verte, an initiative to revitalize and cultivate Saint Catherine Street, which employs about 15 marginalized people and helps with their social reintegration, are part of this community effort and examples of the capacity that local citizen action can have.
We have also worked in urban agriculture and green alley ways, initiatives of the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Rosemont – La-Petite-Patrie éco-quartiers, which are being spearheaded by residents. Finally events such as La Grande Fabrique and Petit Marché de l’Est, which are showcases for local artists, artisans and businesses, also help develop a sustainable way of life through the promotion of local and organic trade.
It is also possible to diversify the economy at the neighbourhood level. By focusing on sustainable housing and renovations, as proposed in our housing strategy, we can bring about change one step at a time.
In addition to being part of international commitments and large-scale projects of national significance, sustainable development must concurrently take place in each of our neighbourhoods. By engaging citizens, we can help build a more just and greener society.