Open Letter to PM Trudeau

This letter addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau and copied to other prominent federal politicians came to my attention yesterday. The author has given 4RG permission to publish it.

Re: Creation of an All Party Climate Emergency Cabinet

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Congratulations on your re-election as the leader of our incredible country!

With your newly elected minority government there is such a great opportunity before you to re-build Canadian unity around the most urgent challenge we face. An All-Party Climate Emergency Cabinet is needed now. Its work could start immediately on many fronts, even as the most comprehensive Emergency National Action Plan on Climate is being developed. After such a divisive campaign, many Canadians would welcome such a positive focus that can take us away for a time from the energy tug- of -war while building on your important pledge to “do more”.

You must recognize it is increasingly clear from the scientific reports that the mitigation measures required in reaching the Paris Accord may not be enough. We are not even on track to reach that and, with the climate crisis here, we must capitalize on full use of every tool in our environmental tool box.

In Project Drawdown, scholars and scientists from 22 countries mapped, measured and modeled the best ways to drawdown and sequester carbon- the most effective route to reversing global warming. The Drawdown research gives strong validation to all Canada’s pioneering work internationally to educate women and girls and to support women’s choices in family planning. In fact, those two action areas combined produce the most effective way to reduce global warming, according to the study.

Furthermore, while the sustainable energy initiatives are absolutely critical, it was surprising to many of us that plant-based eating and elimination of food waste were found to be two of the top five most effective ways to drawdown carbon. This Drawdown research gives an excellent foundation for immediately beginning to build more sustainable ways to help feed all the hungry Canadians-a great starting place for the new Cabinet’s work.

We can exponentially increase access to sustainable harvests with a massive expansion of hydroponic and vertical gardening across the country-in containers, on rooftops, in unused federal building space, on other unused public lands and with private owners. Using new technology, these super gardens could provide nutritious food to our remote northern communities as well as to all the many food insecure Canadians. Partnering with schools, these gardens would give a ‘fertile’ base for students’ experiential learning -in science, health and nutrition, math, and marketing. We care for what we know and, with federal support, the development of new Indigenous led curriculum on the environment would provide complementary student enrichment.

Canada’s food waste is distressingly staggering. Laws like those in France to eliminate food waste by retailers coupled with expansion of food diversion programs like Second Harvest would help the planet and feed our hungry. There is so much we can do. Federal support for the development of robust municipal zero waste programs and other sustainable pilot projects to reduce food waste and support plant- based eating would help shrink this pollution.

Too many Canadians are now feeling disempowered and climate stressed. Many also feel disengaged at a time when we need ALL Canadians involved.  A national public education campaign – think Participaction on Steroids! – based on Drawdown research could empower Canadians by providing so many positive starting places for individual and community action. Indigenous partnerships would enrich as well as help lead in this process that would include building connection to our carbon footprints. As we deal with this most ominous crisis, a heartening addition to such a campaign would be the good news stories detailing some of the remarkable, sustainable innovations that have been developed. They are abundant but not very well known.

A strong focus on Climate Justice by the new All – Party Climate Emergency Cabinet could give Canada many opportunities to transition into a fairer, more equitable society. Our move into the transition economies needs to include a move away from extractionist practices and the punitive, extractionist mentality that hoards so much wealth for so few.

The new Cabinet’s work could strongly encourage Canada’s recognition for the basic human right to a safe environment for all that includes the right to safe drinking water. The time is long overdue to establish a federal Ministry of Water before we squander more of our most precious gift. We need a comprehensive federal plan-including the mapping of all of our aquifers and a multi-year strategic action plan to more effectively and fully protect Canadians’ public access to healthy water.

Federal leadership in scaling up sustainable agriculture can include active support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  The new Cabinet could direct and disseminate the best climate based information to all MP’s such as the excellent EAT-Lancet Commission Report that includes a pathway to sustainable food for the planet by 2050.

You have already recognized the benefits of planting two billion trees. Seeding kelp forests in our oceans -as seaweed sequesters even more carbon than trees will help make the oceans healthier as well as providing a healthy habitat in which fish and shellfish can breed.

By using a climate lens the new Cabinet  could find many ways for scaling up the use of sustainable materials to drive the national infrastructure program. Emissions will be reduced by use of the less carbon polluting cement alternatives being developed, the use of more wood for buildings and more recycled materials. Environmental audits using such a lens will bring best practices to light to guide further action.

With time so precious, work at the national level through the new Cabinet could more efficiently support and coordinate public private partnerships to ensure faster reduction of harmful practices such as single use plastics when voluntary compliance is not enough. To witness our boreal forests being destroyed in 2019 to produce toilet paper and printer paper when recycled paper is available is just untenable. Greater support for the environmental networks which both organize citizens’ actions for healthy environments and impart sage advice to all levels of government, reaches an already energized citizenry that wants to participate in building viable solutions.

There is such untapped potential for harnessing Canadian environmental expertise as well as engaging businesses and institutions which have already embarked on sustainable initiatives for replication projects. Partnerships with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the C40 Cities project would ensure greater connection to all the important work to reduce pollution being done by municipalities when partisan politics are set aside. The move to zero emission transportation for all government fleets could be accomplished sooner with federal support for production of the vehicles to be made in Canada. Strong fiscal support is also needed for expansion of the exciting sustainability research now underway in a variety of fields. National action, needed in so many areas, will include, of course, work with the provinces on methane reduction.

There are striking parallels between the high levels of tolerance of gender-based violence that I have been working against for over half a century and the high tolerance we have for polluting our planet-even when the consequences for our communities are clear. Twenty- six years ago I was co-author of the world’s first national action plan to end violence against women – also evidently Canada’s first ever national action plan.  Last Fall I proposed creating an Emergency National Action Plan on Global Warming for Canada that would include transparent, effective accountability mechanisms such as annual reporting to Parliament on the progress made.

More than ever before, Canada and the world need bold, visionary leadership in response to this existential crisis. Our time window for climate action and the opportunity for this leadership is now.  I urge you to create an All-Party Climate Emergency Cabinet and develop the boldest, most inclusive Climate National Action Plan ever – one that will give us the best chance to help restore the health of our planet. Generations of Canadians – including our unborn great grandchildren – are counting on you.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Patricia Freeman Marshall, O.Ont.

c Catherine McKenna, MP

c Carolyn Bennett, MP

c Chrystia Freeland, MP

c Elizabeth May, MP

c Jagmeet Singh, MP

c Andrew Scheer, MP

c Yves-Francois Blanchet, MP

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