We are in a unique moment in history, marked by the ominous deadline set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We have barely a decade to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid serious climate consequences.
And Canada is at a crossroads. After a divisive federal election, the climate crisis is one among many significant issues that need to be addressed, including national unity, equalization, and the economy. Our governments, at all levels, clearly have important roles to play.
So too do we, as citizens and as people of faith.
Remember our Calling
As Christians, we have been called to “love justice, seek kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”
In times of uncertainty, of separation, and of fear, it can be easy to lose sight of this calling. Yet that is precisely when it is most important. As people of faith, we are blessed to be part of very special communities. Our parishes and congregations are unique places where people of different ages and from different backgrounds and political ideologies gather for worship, communion, and deep conversation.
Through dialogue we might find that regardless of where we live or who we voted for, we likely have a lot in common. Fundamentally, we all want the same things. We want better lives for our families. We want to take pride in our work. And, we want a secure future.
As we look to chart a way forward together, what if, instead of going straight to emissions, pipelines, and carbon pricing, we started with: What matters to you? Why is it important?
The current moment invites intense listening. Let us approach it from a place of love, humility, and compassion. By drawing out the core values that we share, we can open ourselves to conversations about potential solutions that can both quell our fears and address our needs and desires.
Foster Connection and Community
Similarly, it can be useful to recognize that we’re all in this together.
The impacts of climate change — forest fires, floods, and heatwaves — are being felt from coast to coast to coast. Unencumbered, they will continue to be felt. This is true of all Canadians, of everyone around the world. No matter our view on human-induced climate change, we are all impacted.
So how do we respond, together?
Canada has long benefited from the contributions of Alberta — and Albertans — to the economy. In other words, people across the country have benefited from fossil fuels. Indeed, the systems and structures we use every day are fueled in one way or another by oil and gas. Sadly, our dependence on fossil fuels is also contributing to the global climate crisis.
Just as we all feel the impacts of climate change, we all feel the impacts of climate policy. Of course, the structure of our natural resource-based economy means this is especially true in the West. This is why a just transition is so important. In a just transition, the burden of change is shared across society. A just transition reduces emissions, creates good jobs, and supports individuals and communities vulnerable to change.
Through a just transition, we can prioritize low-carbon energy development as well as funding for skills development and retraining programs for oil and gas workers. According to the International Labour Organization, global just transition strategies will lead to a net gain of 18 million new jobs in renewable technology, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency.
Beyond jobs, Canada’s just transition must include a culturally-competent and Indigenous- led approach to reducing climate change impacts and addressing the unique needs of Indigenous peoples. Addressing the particular needs of people living in poverty as they face climate-induced extreme weather events is also key.
Change is coming.
But we can choose to focus on what we have in common. And we can recognize that as we move forward together, people of faith can inject a sense of hope and shared humanity into the conversation.
We can help to identify and work towards a shared vision of societal and ecological well-being. And, we can walk humbly together, honouring one another’s contributions, and holding one another up through times of difficulty.
For the love of all humanity, and for the love of all creation.