Five Years On

By Abra Brynne, Executive Director

Five years ago, on December 12th, the Paris Climate Agreement came into being. It gave people hope that at long last the political leaders of countries around the world were taking climate change seriously enough to set ambitious targets that reflect the gravity of the existential threat that faces the planet.

In the intervening years we have seen a few measures taken that reflect the seriousness of the crisis before us. Tragically, we have also seen repeated failures here in British Columbia, in Canada, and in other parts of the world, to meet the targets set within the Paris Climate Agreement framework – most of which have since been demonstrated as being woefully inadequate to change the trajectory we are on.

Scientists have been warning us for decades about the acidification of the oceans and of the loss of marine species. On the land, scientists and farmers have been documenting changes in pests and diseases, in when and how precipitation arrives, and in crop failures attributable to climate change. Rather than gentle rain that can be absorbed by parched soils, rain often comes now in torrents that remove topsoil, destabilize mountain sides and deprives ecosystems of precious water that nourishes all life. 

Winters in the Central Kootenays used to be characterized by four months of predictable snowfalls that accumulated over months, sometimes in large amounts, and then went away again, hurried by March rains. Now those rains come randomly throughout the winter, onto snow or frozen bare ground. We are at risk of reduced snowpacks that not only provide so much delight to outdoor enthusiasts but also provide a source of melted water to keep our streams and rivers flowing during the summer months. Our glaciers, another critical source of water, are rapidly retreating. And the impacts of climate change are much more dire in many other parts of the world.

On this fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, I am hoping that we will take the incredible will power and courage that so many have demonstrated in the face of COVID-19 and apply it to climate change.  Time has run out for us to keep doing business as usual. We need to decarbonize our economies and live within the ecological limits of the planet. We need to truly listen to and follow the leadership of Indigenous people everywhere who have deep knowledge of how to live sustainably on the planet. And we need to do it all together. For the sake of the earth and all living beings on it, now and in the future, let’s demonstrate that we can be good ancestors.

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