2010 to 2020 is the “critical decade,” the timeframe in which global carbon emissions must consistently decline if we are to stay within the moderate climate impact scenario outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – less than a 2 degree C rise in overall global warming. There is reason to feel a glimmer of hope as we reach the halfway mark in 2015. According to the International Energy Agency, 2014 marked an historic year – global CO2 emissions did not rise from the previous year’s levels, even as the global economy grew by three per cent.
This is a significant sign that we can indeed carve a path toward a more moderate climate change scenario and more harmonious relationship with the Earth. 2015 is Earth Day Canada’s 25th anniversary and my 25th year in the environmental sector. For many of us in the movement, this milestone could not have come at a better time. It provides hope that we can reduce the impact of climate change, transition to a low- carbon economy and achieve greater balance and harmony with the natural world.
Where do we go from here? We must stay the course, make good green choices and build on our successes, creating more opportunities for the market, consumers, educators and policy makers to chart a progressive course of action.
This year represents a significant opportunity both at the grassroots level and internationally. In December, 196 countries will meet in Paris to sign a new international climate agreement. The current agreement signed in 2009 set targets that will help us achieve 50 per cent of the carbon reductions needed by 2020 in order to stay within the two-degree warming scenario. The Paris agreement needs to set new targets that get us to 100 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2020.
To mark this critical decade and support the efforts of Canadians at the grassroots level, Earth Day Canada (EDC) is launching its Earth Day Every Day campaign, providing an online, mobile-friendly platform for Canadians to act to reduce their personal carbon emissions and share their profiles and green achievements.
Those who sign up for the challenge to tackle climate change will be recognized on the Earth Flag we will take to Paris in December. The 2015 Earth Flag is inspired by EDC’s 1992 Earth Flag which included 500,000 signatures, illustrating Canada’s collective will to protect the planet. The final signatory, then–Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, took the flag to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit where the first international agreement on climate was signed.
Canada currently ranks 55th out of 58 countries in terms of tackling GHG emissions, ahead only of Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, and 27th on the environment out of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries. Our hope is that Earth Day Every Day and Earth Flag campaigns will inspire and enable Canadians to improve both our quality of life within Canada and our standing on the world stage.
The Earth Day Every Day campaign launches across the country on Earth Day, April 22, 2015. Visit earthday2015.ca to make Earth Day Every Day, sign the 2015 Earth Flag and help set us on a path to living in balance and harmony on the planet.
– Deborah Doncaster, President, Earth Day Canada
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