This blog is published by permission of Michael Clague. An earlier version appeared in the Clague Newsletter of June 28, 2023.
by Michael Clague
July 1, 2023:
Dear Reader: Here’s a piece of musing about what a premier of British Columbia (or of any province for that matter) might share with British Columbians about the climate crisis. While acknowledging the crisis is now in the mainstream of government pronouncements, missing are three things:
- The need to be frank, that we need to acknowledge that the world as we know it is ending if we are to survive.
- A climate action mobilization plan for the province as a whole, involving all sectors of society, of a scale commensurate to the challenges we face.
- A public engagement plan to create a vision of what a socially just and environmentally and economically sound society would look like in this new reality.
What, dear reader, might this prompt you to say if you were the Premier’s speech-writer? Comments welcome.
Letter from the Premier:
Dear Fellow Citizens of British Columbia:
It is now evident that our province, our country and the world will not meet commitments to limit the increase in global warming by 1.5 C by 2030. We will exceed this benchmark (indeed just as this is being written it is reported that the world will pass the warming increase of 1.5 degrees by 2027).
We are already experiencing the consequences and they will only increase as rising temperatures compound, each increase building on the other.
The impact is affecting every aspect of our personal and collective lives. How we have lived since the dawn of the industrial age is changing irrevocably for ever. The world as we have known it for human beings and for all living beings on this planet is ending.
We have no choice but to accept this new reality if we are to survive. It means re-thinking our daily lives, and how we will live and work well together.
Your provincial government is preparing a climate emergency mobilization plan whose compelling focus is on all citizens and organizations working together to see us through – not to the world we have known, but to one that offers a prospect of survival with dignity, with hope and with fairness for all. But to do so we have to face and acknowledge what is before us calmly and determinedly, with creativity and adaptability. Above all we have to exercise trust and respect for one another as we come together to begin this new and frankly difficult journey.
Measures will need to be adopted that are unprecedented in peace-time. To succeed they will require major changes in our personal and work lives – in how we live and what we do. We will need to transition to a different economy with a different, less material standard of living if we are to have some possibility for survival and to secure the future for generations to come. We will need to create fulfilling lives through using less of the world’s natural resources and by not despoiling those that are remaining. Our job as government, with your full involvement is to ensure this happens fairly and equitably.
Such measures will need to be democratically accountable and subject to the rule of law. They must be inclusive yet not prevent moving forward on measures to safeguard the essentials of life on this planet: food, clothing, shelter, clean air and clean water. They must ensure that policies and actions are not at the expense of the most vulnerable of our citizens.
There are three overarching goals:
- To reduce the use of fossil fuels and other sources of harmful gases in the economy far more rapidly than current plans
- To replace reliance on fossil fuels with commensurate economic measures that generate sustainability and employment for British Columbians
- To undertake large scale public works to ameliorate the impacts of climate change in the management of our land, our water, and our air.
What will this revolution in living look like? Together we shall create this vision.
What will be the means? This mobilization will require the unprecedented involvement of all British Columbians – to create ownership of the results:
- Citizen’s assemblies to work through the issues and create the opportunities
- Granting more authority and funding to regional and local governments and First Nations governments working with community organizations, labour, and business to apply local knowledge and expertise to produce plans and actions relevant to local conditions.
To this end we are inviting the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, First Nations organizations and leaders of civil society to discuss structures and processes for local and regional leadership.
Mobilization will also require unprecedented collaboration among British Columbia’s political parties and with First Nations. To this end we are inviting the three parties and provincial First Nations organizations to meet and create a working group to design together the structures and processes for collaboration. Civil society, business, labour and faith communities must also be involved.
We also will be enlisting provincial governments and the federal government to take similar initiatives across the country, and to do so in ways that are complementary and mutually supportive.
Our work ahead is not only focused on our survival. It includes nourishing our mental and emotional well-being. Together, it means creating rewarding choices for how we live our lives in a different and fulfilling economic order.
Together we can.
About the Author:
Michael Clague is a Former director of The Fraser Basin Council, and the Chair of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver program dialogue series: Faith and the Climate Crisis. Michael Clague has worked in the fields of adult education, social policy and planning, and community development.
He has been executive director of agencies such as the Britannia Community Services Centre (Vancouver), the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC of BC).
Read GTEC’s response to Michael’s letter in the GTEC Blog!